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“Club Zero” by Jessica Hausner: This movie has what it takes to…

“Club Zero” by Jessica Hausner: This movie has what it takes to…

A passionate teacher convinces her students they don’t have to eat to survive: Jessica Hausner’s ideological satire “Club Zero,” which premiered Monday at Cannes, can win the Palme d’Or.

No, she is not modest, this Miss Novak. “I’m here to save you,” she says to one of her students — and she means it quite seriously. What exactly you want to save her from is not clear to anyone, neither Novak nor the young people she cares about. But they are both convinced that whatever it is, it must be very bad. And those drastic measures are necessary to start the required rescue.

It is typical for Jessica Hausner that the plot of her new movie, Club Zero, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival Monday night, has no concrete, tangible drive at its core. The 50-year-old Austrian is fascinated by the mental edifices we humans build around us — and the sometimes fatal (wrong) paths dictated by the walls of imagination. Rarely has this major interest of Haussner been so clearly recognized as in her most recent work—a possible alternate title for the same would be Ideology: The Film.

Appropriately, “Club Zero” – an international co-production and Hausner’s second English-language film – takes place in a school: meaningful transmission of knowledge requires a certain underlying trust that can easily be abused. The seductress—Hausner cites “Pied Piper of Hamelin” as an inspiration—is Miss Novak, the enthusiastic young teacher (played by Australian Mia Wasikowska, who shares mysterious personalities), who is supposed to teach mindful feeding at a boarding school for the wealthy. Whatever she does – just a little more than is asked of her.

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