July 28, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

7 of Isabelle Huppert’s best comedic roles

Yu Jun-sang and Isabelle Huppert in “In Another Country.”

(Kino Lorber)

Serendipity granted the French legend one of her favorite partnerships ever with 2012’s “In Another Country,” a romantic comedy from the equally thoughtful and irreverent Korean director Hong Sang Soo. Understatedly hysterical, this triptych sees Huppert as multiple iterations of Anne, a charming tourist meeting different men in each segment.

She met the director through French auteur Claire Denis. When the multitalented actress visited Seoul to present an exhibit of her photographs as a model, “Isabelle Huppert: Woman of Many Faces,” she invited Hong to see it. He attended. Soon after he mentioned he was preparing a film. He’d found the perfect location, a hotel a six-hour drive from Seoul, but he didn’t know what the story would entail.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘So you want to be in it?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ When I was back in Paris, he called me a number of times and told me a little bit about the script, which was going to be a three-story film. I showed him a couple of dresses from my house, and he said, ‘OK, you can bring those,’” she recalled. “A month later I flew back to Korea, he came to the airport to pick me up, then we shot it in 10 days and that was it.”

Anne’s position as a foreign person in Korea is responsible for some of the film’s comedic magic. The lovers can’t understand each other beyond a few words but their attraction surpasses the limited verbal exchanges. Although Hong, who studied in America, speaks very good English, many of the other crewmembers and actors involved didn’t — including the male lead, Yu Jun-sang, a respected actor in Korea. Yet he and Huppert still communicated in front of and behind the camera.

“It’s one of my most precious experiences in my life, because the whole thing was so sudden, so easy, so unusual,” Huppert said. “It was like a dream, and at the end we had a little masterpiece, so funny and so poetic.”