Thursday, August 3, 2017

A career role for Catherine Deneuve

Always an actress of elegant beauty, Catherine Deneuve lets down her guard in The Midwife, a movie about a midwife (Catherine Frot) whose life is upset when Deneuve's character turns up after a long absence. Deneuve portrays Beatrice, the mistress of Frot's character's late father. Director Martin Provost begins by introducing us to Frot's Claire, a woman devoted to a profession that helps bring new life into the world. A single mother with a son in med school, Claire spends her free time tending to a communal garden in a Parisian suburb. There, she meets a genial truck driver (Olivier Gourmet) who's interested in starting a relationship. But the relationship that most impacts Claire involves tense meetings with Deneuve's Beatrice, a flamboyant woman who has exaggerated her station in life. As it turns out, Beatrice has contacted Claire out of desperation: A brain tumor has left Beatrice with a limited amount of time to live. The movie serves as a showcase for Deneuve, who's playing a character who's both irresistible and annoying. Frot ably abets Deneuve's performance. Together Deneuve and Frot deliver a nice duet in a somewhat forgettable melodrama with an interesting sidelight. Claire's small maternity clinic is about to be overwhelmed by a high-tech addition to the health landscape that's sure to sacrifice the kind of personal touch that Claire very much values. The movie's irony, I suppose, is that Claire, a woman skilled in birth, is asked to help Beatrice face her death.

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