Run time: 135 mins
Virginie Efira and Niels Schneiderin astound in this accomplished and ambitious exploration of gender politics.
In 1958, 25-year-old Rachel, an office clerk living in French provincial town Châteauroux, meets Philippe, a romantic young intellectual from a wealthy family. They share a passionate but short-lived romance from which Rachel gives birth to a daughter, Chantal (impressive newcomer Estelle Lescure). Over the years that follow, their lives are shaped by the unconditional love between a mother and her daughter as they are both overwhelmed by absence, rejection and abuse.
Adapted from Christine Angot’s best-selling autobiographical novel, it is a film filled with searingly honest accounts; those of relationships, sexual experiences and psychological states past and present. Angot’s emotionally fuelled first-person confessions return time and again to the disturbing events of her youth, mirrored through the traumas of Rachel, a character played with such beauty by Belgian star Efira. Schneider is equally arresting as an elusive outsider who seems sincere in his love for Rachel, at least initially, but is unable to reconcile that with their differences in education and family standing. Hard-hitting stuff from director Catherine Corsini. (Research Chris Coetsee)