La Truite (France, 1982):

A series of aquariums, with Joseph Losey studying a variety of human malice as if swimming past schools of fish -- an early scene sets it up, a sinuous long take surveys Jeanne Moreau and her entourage making their way through a bowling alley, with West Indies Amazon Lisette Malidor hugging a giant fishbowl. All eyes, both female and male, are on Isabelle Huppert, who demolishes the pins with her husband (Jacques Spiesser), a pale homosexual; the couple wins a robust wager from the visiting swells, businessman Daniel Olbrychski compliments Huppert on her "grand art," though the game she's always excelled at is getting things out of men while giving nothing in return. Why so cold, baby? Seeing old guys sticking their hands up young skirts back in the fishing farm did it for her, and to work out her cockteasing revolt she tosses Jean-Paul Roussillon's prize trophy, a stuffed trout, into the river. "The closer I am to death, the more I love life," Japanese magnate Isao Yamagata sighs, but no such serenity for old Losey, whose view of humanity is as venal as ever, or at least as Eva -- Moreau, that seminal destructive trollop in the earlier masterpiece, here tastes karmic justice by being supplanted by a younger succubus more attuned to degraded times. Moments of opulent, sour comedy abound: Jean-Pierre Cassel's disco-floor stiffness lends a peek of his farceur roots, a curving pan at the dinner table finds (why not) a Don Giovanni nod, hilariously worldly Alexis Smith advises Huppert to ditch her Western sense of sin. Huppert sails through all of it, leaving Japanese clubs in defiant pink slips, a blank face watching a sumo match on TV or collecting money for unbuttoning her blouse, faithful only to her principled nihilism. The heroine doesn't mind turning into one of the bourgeois ghouls she set out to destroy, "it's all the same to me," so Losey ends as he began, his prowling lenses fixated on the opaqueness of a twat. With Roland Bertin, and Craig Stevens.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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