Grieving after the death of her young son Joseph, novelist Betty Fisher enters a dark depression. Hoping to bring her out of it, her mother Margot arranges to kidnap another child, Jose, to...
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Grieving after the death of her young son Joseph, novelist Betty Fisher enters a dark depression. Hoping to bring her out of it, her mother Margot arranges to kidnap another child, Jose, to replace the son Betty lost. Although she knows it's wrong, Betty accepts Jose as her new son. Meanwhile, Jose's mother Carole is looking for her son with the help of her boyfriend Francois and some of his criminal cohorts.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
In the scene in which Alex goes to the bookshelf and pulls down a book in which some money is hidden, all the books on that shelf are by Ruth Rendell, who wrote the book this film was based on. The cover of the French version of that book, entitled 'Jeux des Mains', is prominently displayed when he pulls down the book. See more »
This is the second adaptation of a Ruth Rendell book that I have seen. The first was the glossy but creepily empty and tiresome La Ceremonie, in which Claude Chabrol's visceral hatred of the bourgeoisie led him to that bloody climax. Claude Miller has done a satisfying version of The Tree of Hands, with a solid script and some excellent performances. Nicole Garcia as Betty's mother is so compelling, so dangerous in her impulsiveness and inability to see the consequences of her actions. I forgot about the stiff chatelaines she usually plays when I saw her look coolly at the little boy lying on the deck, then up at the open window out of which he'd fallen, then look again at the boy while calculating the benefit to her of the boy's death. Truly frightening.
Mathilde Seigner as the single mom whose son is getting in the way of her partying, and Edouard Baer as the gigolo who can hardly believe his luck when he sells a house that isn't his (such an engaging thief!) are both good. Sandrine Kiberlain as Betty is stronger than I am used to seeing her--she often plays bleak loners who resort to prostitution as a quick fix (A Vendre; En avoir, ou pas)--here she has inner resources that allow her to combat her crazy mother, her prying ex-husband and the police kid-hunt.
Miller has a problem that defeats him in the end: how to reconcile the demands of the plot while giving us the fully-realized characters. The end is rushed--I don't blame him for this--and serves to tie up loose ends only. If A and B are shot, then C can make a get away. Still, for the acting, it's one of the best noirs of recent years.
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