One's always tempted to see something of the primitive whirling about over the porcelain surface of Isabelle Huppert, a singular storm in a teacup - that is her fascination; she is somehow all and nothing at once. But in Claire's Camera what is primitive seems more like "simple" - not in the derogatory sense of "simpleton" but more like what Martha Stewart intends. Yellow linen. Untroubled. It's one of Huppert's most untroubled performances - Claire is a lovely breeze come in off the Mediterranean, making sense of things with an imperceptible nudge.
And so similarly what often reads as a "primitive" conceit in more judgmental hands - the belief that the taking of one's photograph might steal one's soul, one's essence - instead, here in Hong Sang-soo's lovely little contemplative film, becomes a contemplation - what if instead of stealing one's soul the taking of a photograph simply shifted one's self around a little bit, connecting dots that weren't entirely dotted just before?
What if pictures, that is to say cinema, helped sort us out?
It's not an earth-shaking idea but Claire's Camera makes seventy brief and inviting minutes of sitting at a French seaside cafe out of it, and that's certainly not to be sneezed at. I've never been to Cannes but this feels like the anti-glamorous ideal of it - a week before or a week after, everybody's somewhere else and the people who talk in pictures, who think about images, are left to do just that for a minute. How lovely and fine.