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Originally published Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 3:01 PM

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‘My Worst Nightmare’: French rom-com, Hollywood feel

“My Worst Nightmare” shows a French version of the tried-and-true Hollywood rom-com.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2.5 stars

“My Worst Nightmare,” with Isabelle Huppert, Benoît Poelvoorde, André Dussollier, Virginie Efira. Directed by Anne Fontaine, from a screenplay by Nicolas Mercier and Fontaine. 99 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In French with English subtitles. SIFF Film Center.

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Isabelle Huppert, a force to be reckoned with over the past several decades in French film (she’s also in “Amour,” opening this week), brings her trademark ferocity to something rare for her: a romantic comedy. Anne Fontaine’s “My Worst Nightmare” is the sort of thing that, in this country, might star Jennifer Aniston and Zach Galifianakis. Agathe (Huppert) is a tightly wound art dealer with a fabulous Paris apartment, a distinguished husband (André Dussollier) to whom she’s not exactly married, a cute young son (Donatien Suner) and a wardrobe filled with sleek black outfits that she wears like armor. Patrick (Benoît Poelvoorde) is a shlubby, more-or-less-homeless single dad who cheerfully admits that his son was a “beer baby,” and whom Agathe finds vulgar and tasteless. (He’s the sort who, when he offers to buy Agathe’s non-husband François a coffee, turns out not to have the money — and then swiftly pockets the cash when François pays.)

Think Agathe and Patrick — who François hires to finish a contracting job in their apartment — will be attracted to each other? Turns out France isn’t so far from Hollywood after all. But “My Worst Nightmare,” though predictable, moves along nicely enough for most of its 99 minutes, thanks to an offbeat chemistry between Huppert (who’s very good at looking appalled) and the very relaxed Poelvoorde. Things lose steam before the end — the movie runs out of places to go, except the inevitable — but it’s a pleasure to finally see Agathe sitting on the floor in bluejeans, learning that her worst nightmare isn’t so bad after all.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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