Isabelle Adjani received her first Oscar nomination at the age of 20 for playing Adèle Hugo, the troubled daughter of the famed French author, Victor Hugo, in Francois Truffaut's movie, The Story of Adèle H. Adjani caused a real sensation with this performance of hers and I think that she would have won the Oscar if Louise Fletcher had been nominated in the supporting category (where she really did belong). Adjani was the critics' favorite, she was young, she was beautiful and had a great chance of winning that year. I guess the fact that she was relatively unknown and she was in a French movie prevented her from winning the Oscar. I still believe that she was much closer to winning than some would assume.
The Story of Adèle H. is a really great movie and I'm quite surprised that it wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Dersu Uzala (the one that won) was better, I think but a nod would have been deserved for this one, in my opinion. Truffaut was a brilliant-brilliant director and he shows his talents in this movie, too. There's so much tension in this movie and I really felt as if I was reading a romantic French novel. It's full of passion and excitement and it most certainly impressed me. French movies are so great and this piece is just another proof of my theory.
The story is about Adèle Hugo, the daughter of Victor Hugo who falls for a handsome soldier who rejects her all the time and treats her like an animal. This is a really tragic, sad story and once you read it, you immediately think about Isabelle Adjani. In my humble opinion, Adjani was born to do this part. Adèle is a mentally unstable, fragile woman and Adjani's just brilliant at playing this kind of characters. I'm just thinking about her work as Camille Claudel. That's a really weird character (in a weird movie) and yet Adjani injected so much passion into her and the result was something immense. Adjani represents what I love about French cinema in general. She's so unique and she doesn't fall into any categories. She has an own category.
Very much like her performance as Adèle as Adjani is just fantastic as Adèle Hugo. This work is very hard to write about and mostly because of its really unique nature. It's neither subtle nor over-the-top and it's so full of hidden layers. I guess my only complaint could be that it started out a little bit slow but that could have been due to the fact that Adjani wanted to show all the layers of Adèle very carefully and in detail.
Adjani's performance is just like music. The emotions are flowing and you cannot really interpret those feelings because there are so many of them. She's so thrilling and she's never out of tune. There's perfect harmony in her performance even when we see Adèle falling apart. Watching that process is not very easy or pleasant but it is indeed a thrill. The development of Adèle is so fantastic. Adjani went from point A to at least point Z (she covered the whole alphabet and went beyond that). It was a really mindblowing journey for me to see her.
Adjani goes beyond that and she's so haunting in some of the scenes. Adèle's dead sister, Leopoldine haunts her in nightmares. We can see a girl drowning and those are really scary images and Adjani makes them even more terrifying. I guess these must have worsened Adèle's mental state and Adjani shows all this beautifully.
There are scenes where Adèle is begging her love not to leave her and marry her. Interesting enough, what I felt for her was not exactly pity, I was actually quite fascinated by her passion and love. She may have only been in love with the love for the guy but it doesn't really matter as Adèle's emotions seem to be so pure and true. It was really beautiful and it never became a cheap romance. It was as romantic as the renowned French novels themselves. I certainly had the same feeling while watching her that I felt while I was reading the French classics. It was just brilliant.
All in all, Isabelle Adjani is just amazing as Adèle Hugo, giving one of the most interesting and unique performances that I've ever seen. She's so full of passion, drama and romance that it's a real emotional joy to see her. Her beauty and talent shines through the movie and makes it even better than it already is. It's really wonderful, haunting and unforgettable work by a great actress.
What do you think? Watch the movie HERE.