The endlessly versatile (and perennially youthful) Isabelle Huppert brings a funny and touching dreaminess to her role in this comedy of empty-nest upheaval. Long married to Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), Brigitte (Huppert) is every inch the stylish, gracious country lady. Breeding prize charolais cattle in Haute Normandie, the couple lives the comfortable life of today’s rural gentry. (No cheap laughs here: writer/director Marc Fitoussi takes care to portray his country folk as fully plugged into the 21st-century.)
But the departure of their children from home has thrown Brigitte’s world into flux. While Xavier lives for his work, picking up yet another trophy at the breeders’ association meet, she finds herself easily distracted from the routines of country life. A party held by visiting students on the adjoining property leads to a surprising invitation. Brigitte sets off for Paris, convincing even herself, perhaps, that she has a doctor’s appointment to attend to.
The city immediately invigorates her and when she meets a charming Danish businessman (Michael Nyqvist, As It Is in Heaven, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), she is flattered by his attentions. No stranger to his wife’s flights of fancy, Xavier sets out to find her and, if necessary, to win her back. Beautifully performed by all concerned, Folies Bergère delivers a classic comedy of remarriage with Gallic insouciance – and a warm gust of country air.