Amateur [1994]

Filmmaker Hal Hartley is something of an acquired taste. But if you can get on his oddball, deadpan wavelength, you can't help but enjoy his films--and this is one of his best. Isabelle Huppert plays a former nun who now works as a pornographer. She connects with Martin Donovan, playing a fellow who's lost his memory, but whose past may contain particularly nasty stuff. As they look for a way to get away from that past (which includes a couple of hit men who look like stockbrokers), the two discuss the meaning of their lives in hilariously vague ways. Hartley's dialogue is tart and concise, filled with acidic but low-key humor. And Donovan, who also starred in the director's equally good Trust, has just the right downbeat affect to give the film an unusual spin. --Marshall Fine

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