Quirky, saccharine directorial debut from French actress Melanie Laurent
(15) 100 mins
Still only 28-years-old, French actress and musician Melanie Laurent makes her directorial debut with this offbeat family tale, which owes more to her recent performances in US indie Beginners and the sentimental melodrama The Concert than to her career-launching role as the Jewish avenging angel in Quentin Tarantino’s WW2 revenge fantasy Inglorious Basterds. Split into three chapters, The Adopted concerns a pair of sisters in contemporary Lyon: aspiring musician and single mother Lisa (Laurent herself) and her more optimistic adopted sibling, bookshop assistant and Charade-lover Marie (Marie Denarnaud). Disrupting the emotional rapport between these women is a tough but tender restaurant critic Alex (Denis Menochet); the latter sweeps Marie off her feet, swiftly incurring Lisa’s jealousy.
Clearly aiming for a ‘quirky’, fable-like atmosphere, Laurent favours strangely deserted locations and near-focus compositions that reflect the emotional confusion of her creations. The most interesting character however, the alcoholic middle-aged mother Millie (Clementine Celarie), is notably underused, and the film hammers home its saccharine coming-to-terms-with-life message. It pales in comparison to Julian Schnabel’s thematically linked, but far more bold and imaginative, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Selected release from Fri 24 Feb.