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Private Property review

Private Property
Running time: 86 minutes
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Jeremie Renier, Yannick Renier
Rating 8 out of 10
Move over the Dardenne brothers, there's a new name in Belgian cinema. Joachim Lafosse's fourth feature - to my knowledge the first of his works to be released in the UK - displays a great deal of promise from this thirty-two-year-old auteur, and it's not too outrageous to make comparisons with the Austrian giant Michael Haneke and the French master Claude Chabrol.

In Private Property, Lafosse portrays a family on the edge of a breakdown. Isabelle Huppert is Pascale, the single mother of twin brothers in their early twenties. They sponge off their mother, refuse to allow her to consider selling the family house and make a new life for herself, and generally behave like petulant teenagers.

The gradual breakdown in the relationship between the three is meticulously depicted. From initially jolly scenes, we see how the threat of losing the house becomes a cancer that eats away at the boys and forces a dramatic, unexpected and shocking finale.

Lafosse employs Hichame Alaouie's camera wisely, often simply framing the increasingly dysfunctional trio as they sit around the dinner table. There is also a highly impressive camera shot towards the end of the film, once the tumultuous event has occurred.

Huppert is as always excellent: displaying a physical fragility but a mental strength that has become her trademark. The two sons are also convincingly portrayed by real life brothers Jeremie and Yannick Renier. Those in search of a superior French language fix should seek it out immediately, and certainly keep an eye out for the director's future works.

Paul Hurley

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