Catherine Frot stars as a conscientious midwife reluctantly reconnecting with Catherine Deneuve as the flamboyant step-mother who absconded 30 years earlier, in this lively drama from writer/director Martin Provost (Séraphine)
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
Two of France’s most distinguished stars, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot share the screen in this touching tale of the unlikely connection of opposites. Claire (Frot) is a dedicated and tireless midwife whose sense of pride and responsibility clash with the depersonalised efficiency of modern hospitals. She’s raised her son solo and is well pleased that he’s made it to medical school. One day she receives a strange phone call, a voice from the past. Béatrice (Deneuve), the extravagant and frivolous mistress of her late father, has pressing news and wants to see her again, over a drink, 30 years after having disappeared without a trace. Claire, habitually conscientious and sober, bridles at the prospect of having this foolish woman back in her life, but prepares to meet her regardless.
Writer/director Martin Provost (Séraphine) has gifted two expert actresses with marvellously individual roles for an entertaining and emotional pas de deux. As old resentments are faced down, they tacitly acknowledge common fears, begin to enjoy each other’s shortcomings and build anew on their shared past.
“Martin Provost’s The Midwife once again proves that French filmmakers know how to treat actresses of a certain age... As the reigning grande dame of French cinema, Deneuve could easily rest on her laurels, only taking roles that befit and reinforce her stature. Which makes her vulnerable turn here all the more special. Playing a heart-on-her-sleeve, still-crazy-after-all-these-years free spirit, Deneuve delivers her best performance in recent memory.” — Ben Croll, Indiewire