Screened as part of NZIFF 2018

Custody 2017

Jusqu’à la garde

Directed by Xavier Legrand World

“Deftly pivoting from tense realism to outright horror, Xavier Legrand’s broken-family chamber drama deservedly won the first-time feature director the Venice Film Festival’s Best Director award.” — Sight & Sound

France In French with English subtitles
93 minutes CinemaScope/DCP




Alexandre Gavras


Nathalie Durand


Yorgos Lamprinos

Production designer

Jérémie Sfez

Costume designer

Laurence Forgue-Lockhart


Denis Ménochet (Antoine)
Léa Drucker (Miriam)
Thomas Gioria (Julien)
Mathilde Auneveux (Joséphine)
Mathieu Saïkaly (Samuel)
Florence Janas (Sylvia)
Saadia Bentaïeb (The Judge)
Sophie Pincemaille (Maître Davigny
Miriam’s lawyer)
Émilie Incerti-Formentini (Maître Ghénen
Antoine’s lawyer)


San Sebastián
London 2017; Rotterdam 2018


Best Director
Venice Film Festival 2017

We begin the film in the magistrate’s chair as a divorcing couple, Antoine and Miriam, and their counsels argue the case for custody. Their 18-year-old daughter is old enough to make her own choice: she is severing ties with her father. Miriam argues for sole custody of 11-year-old Julien, offering in evidence the boy’s own written testimony. Antoine, clearly stung, implies that the boy’s rejection is the product of Miriam’s brainwashing.

For the remainder of this dauntingly unblinkered film we watch the consequences of the magistrate’s decision, which may or may not be the one we arrived at too. First-time director Xavier Legrand was a child actor himself which may explain the intense involvement he obtains from Thomas Gioria as Julien, tellingly absent from the first scene but at the centre of every other in the continuing contest that follows.

Custody isn’t just a fine film that makes vivid and visceral the escalating, suffocating all-pervasive terror of domestic abuse in a way few films have managed. It’s also an extremely auspicious debut for a writer-director with the rare, almost classicist ability to make utterly riveting drama out of painfully real life.” — Jessica Kiang, The Playlist