Directed by: Laurent Larivière
Distributed by: Haut et Court
Written by Jeff Sparks
Early on in “About Joan,” the titular character recites a conversation she had with an ex-lover decades earlier. We see a younger version of her mirroring herself in real-time as the two versions of the woman echo each other as she recounts a different time. The film stars Isabelle Huppert and Freya Mavor as the same woman in different time periods. Laurent Larivière’s film sees Joan reflect on several aspects of her life including young love, motherhood, and accomplishments. As her thoughts unravel, the true nature of her life comes together piece by piece. Like that early scene, Huppert’s Joan is often searching her brain in a way that’s more regretful than nostalgic. The memories we see her dwell on are relationships that she wishes would have gone differently, such as with her mother who walked out on her family in search of a better life when she was young. Joan didn’t find out until decades later that her mother had been living nearby all this time but by then it was too late, as she had passed away. Joan connects this relation to that of her estranged son, who she never cared for in a way that a mother should.
While the experiences of her life are woven thoughtfully through the different time periods, other aspects of the film are not as graceful in their implementation. The cinematography for example is inconsistent. One shot will see Huppert trotting through a field with a beautiful sunset illuminating her while the next scene will be a standard shot of her in a room with not much aesthetic value to it. The other mixed aspect of the film is a revelation about her relationship with her son that comes at the end. Because that storyline was one of many, this shock feels out of place since its disclosure only affects one area of her life. Despite being a bit of a mixed bag, “About Joan” is a thoughtful study of reflections that includes a solid performance from Huppert as always.
“About Joan” Trailer