Before the Winter Chill (2 stars)

Before the Winter Chill

Kristin Scott Thomas stars in domestic drama which awkwardly meshes family crisis with thriller elements

(15) 103min

Writer/director Philippe Claudel enjoyed a successful collaboration with Kristin Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long, and they re-team for this domestic drama, in which a family crisis is somewhat awkwardly meshed with thriller elements.

Scott Thomas plays Lucie, a bored housewife whose surgeon husband Paul (Daniel Auteuil) believes he's being stalked by a young bartender called Lou (Leila Bekhti), who claims that Paul saved her life on the operating table. Paul confronts Lou and after being convinced that it's a case of mistaken identity, he reluctantly strikes up a chaste friendship with her, while Lucie finds herself the subject of romantic overtures by Paul's best friend Gerard (Richard Berry).

Whether Lucie and Paul can keep their marriage together is the central focus in Claudel's film but the final scenes of Before the Winter Chill lurch abruptly from sophisticated domestic drama to conventional thriller, with hidden motives revealed that cast a very different light on the story. It’s a rather odd film: excellent performances, a convincing milieu, and then a final twist that is so improbable that all Claudel's careful work seems undone.

Limited release from Fri 9 May.

Before the Winter Chill / Avant l'hiver (2013) - Trailer English Subs

Before the Winter Chill (Avant l'hiver)

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • France / Luxembourg
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Philippe Claudel
  • Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Leïla Bekhti
  • UK release: 9 May 2014

Lucie (Scott Thomas) is a bored, middle-class French housewife whose affluent surgeon husband Paul (Auteuil) seems to be being stalked by a young woman (Bekhti) who claims that he saved her life. Despite excellent performances and a convincing milieu, a bizarre and improbable twist in the plot undoes much of Claudel's…