Film Review: I ♥ Huckabees (2004)

“Have you ever transcended space and time?
‘Yes. No. Uh, time, not space…
No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

It makes complete sense that Isabelle Huppert would choose something as challenging as David O Russell’s I ♥ Huckabees to make a rare foray into acting in English. The movie is deliciously off the wall, a philosophical mind-trip that was as difficult to make (as Lily Tomlin would attest) as it is to watch but if you’re up for the task, then it is also something quite rewarding, especially if the idea of Huppert getting jiggy with Jason Schwartzman in a pool of mud is up your street!

What is the film about? Who knows. Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman play a husband and wife who are existential detectives who are hired by Schwartzman’s environmental campaigner to investigate a series of coincidences involving a very tall African man. Huppert is Caterine Vauban, one of their biggest rivals from an alternative school of thought and they end up doing battle over their patients (including an excellent Mark Walhberg) in pursuit of the meaning of life. And Shania Twain.

It is often daft, it is often profound, sometimes it manages to do both at the same time and if you’re not in the mood for it, then I can imagine it becoming extremely wearing. But for me, it just clicks, its unusual rhythm is something to savour – Hoffman and Tomlin’ easy natural style contrasts strongly with Schwartzman (also excellent) and Wahlberg’s intensity, Huppert glides with Gallic grandeur and there’s also nice work from Jude Law and Naomi Watts among others. Recommended. 

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