Sunday April 15th 4:55 PM
Director: Martin Provost
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: French with English Subtitles
Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve; Globe de Cristal Awards Nominee: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve
“While there’s plenty of wisdom about living in the moment and enjoying life, Provost and the Catherines dole it out subtly and without any mawkish aftertaste.”—Vikram Murthi, rogerebert.com
Catherine Deneuve gives a towering performance as Béatrice, a dying woman who looks back on her life and attempts to fix a couple of her very few regrets.
Her principal sorrow, aside from the brain tumor she can no longer ignore, is having abandoned Claire, the young daughter of her former lover, some 30 years before she returns to Paris to look for them both—presumably because she needs help in what’s coming.
Since Béatrice has lost touch with all the people from her past and doesn’t know Google from Gogol, she hasn’t heard that the dad died soon after she left. Or that Claire—played by the equally formidable Catherine Frot—is now a 50-something single mom with a son in medical school and a stern passion for her own work, as a midwife.
In France, Claire’s referred to as a sage femme, or wise woman—which also sums up her orderly, almost monastic life. She works in a standard hospital but her profession is under threat from more streamlined medical practices. And now her domestic world is upended by the long-lost stepmother, who manages to push in all fronts. None of this tug of war keeps Béatrice from smoking, drinking, eating like a queen, and gambling large bags of cash in dubious surroundings.
Given its naturalistic stylings, it takes time to notice how elegantly framed, shot, and edited The Midwife is. And with two Catherines this great, the labour is bound to go well.