Club Zero (2023): Austrian Jessica Hausner’s New Film (Worst Competition Films, Cannes Film Fest 2023)

Club Zero’ (Jessica Hausner)

A woman in an orange shirt and red pants walks across a courtyard.
(Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival)

Jessica Hausner is a Austrian formalist (“Lourdes,” “Amour Fou”) who satirizes religious faith and social mores through tragicomic lens.

Her critical admirers almost abandoned her when she made in 2019 her disappointing English-language horror-thriller Little Joe.

Club Zero stars Mia Wasikowska as a boarding-school teacher who urges her impressionable students to eat less and less and finally reject food altogether.

It could have been the most widely reviled movie in this year’s competition.

While Hausner’s ideas are both repetitive and undernourished, there’s something interesting about the way her actors, with their glum expressions and stilted zomboid cadences, interact with their immaculately furnished and color-coded environment.

She gets at something insidious about how the more well-ordered the world looks, the more out of whack–and potentially turning into chaos–it really is.

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