Guillaume Nicloux: Valley of Love (2015) ...or Laurel and Hardy get mystical. Did Nicloux approve the treacly Hollywood English title (Le Pacte in French) or was this some sort of joke? Nicloux's other film La Religieuse commits a similar punk blasphemy by casting the sublime Louise Bourgoin (illustrated here in my continuing commitment to gratuitous beauty) in a role that requires her to be covered head to toe and the perhaps better-left-fully-clothed Isabel Huppert as the joyful sex fiend. But let's be charitable and focus on the obviously intentional jokes. Contrast, for example, the utterly humorless dialogue with the absurdistically funny Beckett-like imagery of two tramps become middle class movie stars. Traditionally moving is Ives' The Unanswered Question, but the endless beeps and pings of the "portable" and the Ford SUV (bringing how movies depict riding a car up to date) are definitely more existential.I guess this means that, all self-proclamations to the contrary, Beckettish absurdism is alive and kicking. Ironic that. It's certainly an uncanny feeling for an American to sense American Westerners in all their ordinariness perceived through foreign eyes as strange and somehow threatening. (Fabienne Berthaud's melodramatic blouse ripper Sky conveys the same feeling.) At least the foreign country in The Silence was imaginary and unnamed. The film definitely nails Gérard Depardieu and Huppert, two OK actors whose stardom I fail to understand. Depardieu is a gross abortion who should have never been more than a character actor. To show him in his disturbing Blakean nudity proves that the terrible sublime still exists. Huppert gave one good performance in La Pianiste which basically crystallized the character she plays in every other film she's been in - the grouchy, perpetually frowning spinster who never forgave the world for making her a teacher instead of a porn star.