Jusqu’à la garde (original title)
16 | 1h 33min | Drama | 15 March 2018 (Hungary)
Antoine Besson, Miriam’s divorced husband, is a nice man. In charge of security in a hospital, he is esteemed both by his superiors and his fellow colleagues. Moreover he is a good father who, willing to be closer to his eleven-year-old son Julien, has chosen to be transferred to the town where the boy lives with his mother and his older sister Joséphine, soon to be of age. That is the very reason why Antoine, the caring father, is asking for joint custody of Julien. Well, all that would be fine provided Antoine actually was the man he claims to be. The trouble is that his wife and his two children see him in a very different light. For in the past, Antoine was far from an angel. On the contrary, he had a knack for creating an atmosphere of permanent fear at home, going as far as to occasionally beat his wife under his children’s eyes. And he got away with it all the more easily as Miriam, wishing to avoid even more problems, never lodged a complaint against him – a fact that eventually turns against her. Which is why, despite the fact that Julien does not want to see his father any more, the family court judge complies with Antoine’s request.
I find it hard to categorize and settle my thoughts on this film. It appears as a serious gritty kitchen-sink style drama, but Legrand keeps his story, ideas and characters very simple, and it eventually comes across as a slightly lame domestic version of an exploitation film. Its a story that could be told far more efficiently as a 30 minute short, without losing any meaning or impact (unless your thing is build-up for the sake of an ending, which the film delivers a lot of).
It was mildly interesting to watch, although not particularly rewarding or stimulating. It just sort of plods along (with great acting mind). It unravels slightly and becomes slightly annoying. Then the last seven minutes or so become tense and gripping, then its all over and the credits roll. I’m just not sure what there really is to take from it – any specific angle (forewarning patterns of a person’s intent/trajectory? Horror/suspense film? Character study? Psychology of co-dependency?) could have been delivered MUCH more substantially, effectively and in a way that leaves a much deeper imprint. It all feels a bit too short and tepid to really be worthy of a feature.
Director: Xavier Legrand
Writer: Xavier Legrand (screenplay)
Stars: Léa Drucker, Denis Ménochet, Thomas Gioria
Release Date: 15 March 2018 (Hungary)
Filming Locations: Chalon-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, France