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"And the rain was upon the Earth forty days and forty nights "
The movie begins with an admirable prologue in which Ombline tells her dear child the famous story of the deluge ;with no other hint at religion (the heroine does not seem to be a true believer),it serves as a perfect metaphor of what the poor girl is going through.
A human being down on her luck indeed:don't we learn that her mother died when she was one and that her dad (who appears in a short sequence at the end of the movie) was arrested when she was thirteen ?
That does not mean that all imprisoned women (and men) are all victims: but some really got a raw deal ,but some are indeed ,and their fight is already lost before it begins.Wealthy people have their powerful lawyers ,poor people are left in the cold world of a would be justice.
And however ,Ombline does not give up; she's got a reason to live :her child.
To give birth to a baby in jail does not arm you for life ;although the heroine tries to decorate the cell ,it won't delude for long : the prisoners' ceaseless screams in the night are an appalling nuisance when your baby tries to sleep.
In France,the law is adamant : a woman can keep her child in jail till he is eighteen months;then he is entrusted to a host family's safekeeping.And if the mother's behavior does not satisfy the authorities,she can be denied visits .
So it's a ceaseless fight against the wardens and her mates;some of them are genial though ;one of the wardens is a caricature ,par excellence the nasty woman devoid of pity ,it may seem a cliché, but we should not forget that it's a hard job ,in fact an honest movie dealing with a warden's life should be made.
Of course there's hatred,violence ;but there' s solidarity too ;the scene when the prisoners work for their "Golden Lock and the three bears " puppet show is a wonderful moment for these inmates who look for a bit of company;and although the host family is obviously too old and cannot realize how privileged their grandsson is ,they show much sympathy for the unfortunate mom.
Mélanie Laurent is extraordinary in this thankless part ;sometimes she makes me think of a young Simone Signoret.Yes she's that much good.
If some developments are artificial (the drugs in the cell) ,the movie (the first one by the director) does not suffer for it.
"And Noah sent a dove which returned with an olive leaf in its beak"
Now , Ombline says to her baby ,we have to rebuild everything.
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