Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan famously described his main character as a teacher transforming from Mr. Chips to Scarface. Serge Bozon’s Mrs. Hyde is also about a beleaguered teacher who undergoes a profound personality change, and the title hints at the nature of her own journey from the light to the darkness. Mrs. Géquil (Isabelle Huppert) is a high-strung, somewhat ineffectual teacher of a vocational science class with spectacularly rowdy students. After getting struck by lightning while conducting an experiment, the newly confident Géquil finds the heart of gold underneath her students’ rude exteriors and inspires them to learn, upsetting the school’s social-class balance. As Hyde, she also glows at night and kills with her touch, so there’s that.
In the subgenre of Jekyll-and-Hyde stories in which Hyde is female — Hammer’s 1971 Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and the abysmal 1995 comedy Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde being the more prominent examples — Bozon’s Mrs. Hyde may be the first in which the Jekyll figure isn’t male. As such, Hyde’s femininity isn’t treated as the epitome of monstrousness and/or a punishment for the man tampering in God’s domain; indeed, it could be argued that given her destructive, Death Wish-style tendencies, the Hyde persona is more masculine. There are many ways to break bad.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.