Tag Archives: Jessica Hausner

A Modern Lifestyle Brand

Club Zero

by Hope Madden

Cynical, satirical, uncomfortable and likely to bristle viewers no matter where they fall on the political spectrum, Jessica Hausner’s latest, Club Zero, takes aim at, well, a lot of things.

A wickedly brilliant Mia Wasikowska is Ms. Novak, an expensive boarding school’s newest faculty member. Chosen by the parents’ board, Ms. Novak has been brought on to teach conscious eating. Being single and childless, she’s also available for those hard-to-fill weekend duties.

The film’s aesthetic—essentially, every color of vomit—draws attention immediately while Markus Binder’s audacious score delivers echoes of commodified Eastern music. The main target of Hausner’s film, co-written with longtime collaborator Géraldine Bajard, is the privileged, goopy wellness culture. It’s an easy target, but it’s not the only one the filmmaker hits.

Faith in anything other than science—cliquish privilege, capitalism, consumerism and nearly every manner of parenting—is sent up with sometimes unpleasant but never dull cynicism.

Hausner’s framing is gorgeous, and it keeps views at arm’s length from the action. Students are convinced, coddled, and cajoled by Ms. Novak into eating less and less, and into distancing themselves from anyone who wouldn’t understand the righteousness of their calling. In Club Zero, luxury and loneliness meet a culture of competition to create an environment ripe for radicalization.  

The absurdity of the tone keeps this story‑— vulnerable young people succumbing to the attention of a personality that makes them feel special—from feeling tragic. It should, really. But Hausner doesn’t pity the children of privilege much more than their parents.

And while wellness culture is an easy mark, the final image—a clear callback to Da Vinci’s The Last Supper—reinforces the idea that blind, scienceless faith causes more harm than good.