Gradually succumbing to dementia, George Laurent, the octogenarian patriarch of the Laurents, an affluent upper-bourgeois family, is uncomfortably sharing his palatial manor in Calais, the heart of the infamous migrant jungle, with his twice-married son, Thomas, and Anne, his workaholic daughter who has taken over the family construction business. Divorced and frigid, Anne has to handle the impact of a disastrous workplace accident caused by her disappointing son Pierre's negligence, while at the same time, the urgent hospitalisation of Thomas' ex-wife from a mysterious poisoning, leads his sulky 13-year-old daughter, Ève, to live with her father and his new wife, Anais. Undoubtedly, in this family, everyone has a skeleton in the closet, and as the fates of the Laurents enmesh with insistent and ignoble desires, a peculiar and disturbing alliance will form. But in the end, some secrets are bigger than others.

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I've been getting into Michael Haneke movies lately. Code Unknown, Cache, Amour and now this. They're all excellent. Haneke seems to be a genre unto his own. Call it Haneke Intrigue. Isabelle Huppert, with 137 acting credits, is gifted. In English or French she is a natural, it's like she is not acting, she is just whatever the role she is playing which I find uncanny. In this film she is billed as the lead, but I don't think she is the lead. She is the glue that holds it together, it is an ensemble cast that leads. JeanLouis Trintigant plays the family super-rich patriarch coming out with dementia is wonderful. He and his cutesy (wish I had a girlfriend like her when I was 12) grandaughter Eve share a penchant for suicidal tendencies. Eve is played by Fantine Harduin, a somewhat troubled youth, pulls off a crying scene in the car, I don't know how she does it, the pouting, tightening face muscles, Niagara Falls tears and sobbing kind of blew my mind. For me those are some of the high points. Like most French film the story unwinds slowly, contemplatively and with care. It's not about what happens as much as how it happens and why it happens. Substance over form I call it. No real plot to it. Just life. People think, they feel, they emote, they deal with it, sometimes its productive and sometimes it just is. Thanks Ms. Huppert for keeping it all together.

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