Special Treatment (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 95 minutes.
Not for children.
I've known a few
psychiatrists. One of them was a pretty good friend of mine. All but one
have been goofy. I always thought they needed to receive analysis more
than give it. This film gave me another point of view.
This is a brilliant analysis
of the similarities between two professions, prostitution and
psychological analysis. Although it's touted as being "darkly erotic,"
it might be "dark," but it is certainly not "erotic." There's very
little nudity and what nudity there is, is more disgusting than sexy
since the people who are naked are not what anyone would call
Like analysis, it is, well,
analytical. Alice (Isabelle Huppert) is an aging (she's over 43, so I
guess you could say she has already aged) prostitute who services guys
who are, shall we say, mixed up. She plays to their fantasies.
Xavier (Bouli Lanners) is a
screwed up psychotherapist in an unhappy marriage. His counseling
consists of him sitting behind his patients looking disapproving but
never uttering a word as they patter on, or not.
Both Alice and Xavier are
unhappy. The way director Jeanne Labrunne (who also wrote the script
with Richard Debuisne) presents the story, however, is extraordinarily
Some might find the
storytelling slow, and the film does move at its own pace. The last half
hour introduces psychiatrist Pierre Cassagne (Debuisne) and shows what
some psychotherapists have to confront every day. It draws a distinct
dichotomy between Xavier's patients, who are mostly people who are just
unhappy or neurotic, and Pierre's patients, who are truly disturbed or
psychotic. This film shows people who are really disturbed and raises
the issue of how a normal person who might be a psychiatrist can keep
his or her equanimity when treating people with mental disorders this
severe every day.
While I can't recommend this
for everyone, I found it an informative, if unsettling, commentary on
life and two widely practiced professions.