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Berlinale 2013: Isabelle Huppert On Playing a Horny Lesbian Nun

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 11, 2013 at 11:17AM

Legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert has an extraordinarily lengthy filmography, with over 100 credits to her name. But she's come to the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival with a wholly new role: Supérieure Saint Eutrope, the super horny lesbian nun in Guillaume Nicloux’s "The Nun" (La Religieuse).
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Isabelle Huppert In Berlin.
Isabelle Huppert In Berlin.

Legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert has an extraordinarily lengthy filmography, with over 100 credits to her name. But she's come to the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival with a wholly new role: Supérieure Saint Eutrope, the super horny lesbian nun in Guillaume Nicloux’s "The Nun" (La Religieuse).

Huppert's Eutrope is not the film's titular nun. That would be Pauline Etienne as 16-year-old Suzanne Simonin, the heroine at the center of Nicloux’s adaptation of Denis Diderot's controversial 18th century novel (previously adapted by the likes of Jacques Rivette).  Simonin eventually finds herself at a convent headed by Huppert's character, who at first appears quite friendly (especially compared to some of the other characters in the film), but then quickly becomes a little too friendly.

"I like the character I had to portray," Huppert said at the film's press conference. "It's the kind of character you have to sort of take out of the caricature and go beyond certain images that you have with such behaviour and such a character. And actually, the way the script was written and the way Guillaume directed it made it very easy to go beyond the caricature."

Huppert said that while her character may be the superior mother, there's "nothing superior" about her.

"What she feels for this young girl makes her very human and God is very far from her in that moment," she said. "It was all very simple, in a way. And very natural. So I didn't really ask myself what I was going to do and what I should do. It was something easy. And not very scandalous, actually. It was so natural. But maybe that's the scandal. Feeling so natural, there was nothing you can do."

"The Nun" is being released in France this March.  The North American premiere of the film will be in a couple of weeks at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. It is screening as part of Rendezvous with French Cinema. No U.S. distributor has bitten yet, but it could definitely be worth their while.

This article is related to: Berlin International Film Festival