Madame Hyde (2017)

*. I did a double take when I saw when this film was released. 2017! Really? Even with the rap singers in the projects (or banlieues) I would have guessed 1990 at the latest. The packaging of the DVD didn’t help either. It looked badly dated, even for a foreign art film.
*. A review by Christy Lemire also put Madame Hyde in the ’80s context, likening it to Zapped! and Weird Science (1982 and 1985 respectively). You could also invoke The Nutty Professor (either version, 1963 or 1996). Whatever your referent, it doesn’t feel like 2017. And the cheap effects, with glowing figures and arcing bolts of electricity, might push things even further back.
*. But, here we are in the twenty-first century getting a revamp of the Jekyll and Hyde story as Madame Géquil is gifted super powers after being hit with a storm surge. One supposes there’s some kind of feminist message here, with the doormat schoolteacher being literally empowered by her accident, but I have trouble drawing this part out. How is she fighting back against the patriarchy? What wrongs is she righting?
*. I got a smile out of the Lycée Arthur Rimbaud. Then for the heck of it I did an Internet search and found out that there really is such a school. Colour me impressed.
*. As the references to Zapped!, Weird Science, and The Nutty Professor suggest, Madame Hyde is a comedy. Or at least I think it is. I got the impression that perhaps a lot was being lost in translation. What was supposed to be funny aside from the school principal?
*. Most reviewers regretted the lectures on science, finding them dull. I thought they were interesting, though I’ll admit that not knowing a lot of science probably made them more so. My problem with them was that I couldn’t see their point. When Géquil is talking about the operation of a Faraday cage, for example, what connection does that have to anything? I couldn’t see how it was relevant, even thematically, to the film’s argument or plot. Then again, I couldn’t be sure if Madame Hyde had an argument.
*. Most reviewers did like Isabelle Huppert. I thought she seemed barely awake most of the time, even when going into full Dark Phoenix mode. That’s another way this movie just left me pulling a blank. It could be I was missing something, but I have a hunch there wasn’t anything to miss. Either way, something wasn’t working and the target wasn’t being hit.

6 thoughts on “Madame Hyde (2017)

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