Amanda (4 stars)

Amanda

Touching French drama about the bond between a man and his young niece, from Mikhaël Hers

There is a light, airy assurance to the early stages of Amanda. It is a Paris summer caressed by dappled sunlight and full of possibilities. Former tennis player David (Vincent Lacoste) is working all the hours he can and sensing a connection with neighbour Léna (Stacy Martin), who has recently arrived from the South. David's schoolteacher sister Sandrine (Ophélia Kolb) has started a new relationship, cautious of the impact on her seven-year-old daughter Amanda (Isaure Multrier).

The charming, almost fairytale, idyll is shattered by a terrorist attack in which Sandrine is one of the victims. A grief-stricken David is left to contemplate whether he can carry the responsibility of becoming Amanda's legal guardian at just 24. Is there a way to move forward from such a tragedy?

Amanda requires a suspension of disbelief in places, not least in the reaction of some other family members to Sandrine's death. Director Mikhaël Hers compensates for any niggling doubts about the story by bringing a delicate touch to its emotional core. The numbness and awkward fumbling to retain some grip on normality feel very true to life. He captures the sombre silence of an empty Paris in the aftermath of the attack and the way grief arrives in waves, catching you off guard when you least expect it.

Hers also brings out the best in his actors, there's a naturalistic ease to the performances of Lacoste and talented newcomer Multrier, who is a real find. The bond they create is touching and believable, steeped in affection and a sense of their determination to somehow muddle through. It lies at the heart of a sweetly accomplished depiction of how love and time can help start the healing process.

Limited release from Fri 3 Jan.

Amanda

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • 1h 47min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Mikhaël Hers
  • Cast: Vincent Lacoste, Isaure Multrier, Stacy Martin
  • UK release: 3 January 2020

David (Lacoste) is a former tennis player, sensing a connection with neighbour Léna (Martin); but then his sister Sandrine (Kolb) is killed in a terrorist attack, leaving her seven-year-old daughter (Multrier.) Heres brings a delicate touch to the story and there’s a naturalistic ease to the performances. An accomplished…

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