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  • Colin Fraser


THREE AND A HALF STARS Two women confront the past, present and future when an old flame comes calling.


You might expect Hurricane Catherine with both Deneuve and Frot on screen together for the first time. Although a perfect storm of talent, with Deneuve a tempestuous provocateur, THE MIDWIFE is far less destructive and much more rewarding as befits this coupling of French greats. Frot plays Claire, the titular midwife whose talent lies in new beginnings although her position is under threat from corporate realignment. Of greater threat is the reappearance of her father’s mistress Beatrice (Deneuve), a fiery woman determined to make peace before illness takes her for good. Problem is, Claire’s not interested in peace or the peacemaker. Problem for her is that Beatrice won’t take no for an answer, sparking a realignment of worlds for both women.

THE MIDWIFE is the kind of charmer for which French cinema is renowned: laughter, tears, charm, reflection. The extraordinary presence of both leads is worth admission price alone, yet they also make room for critical support to shine through (Quentin Dolmare as Claire’s son for instance). It’s credit to director Martin Provost (SERPAHINE) that he finds the right balance, although it’s unlikely that much intervention would be required where Frot and Deneuve are concerned.

Nonetheless, there are a couple of awkward gear changes in his self-penned script that the film can’t quite drive through. They don’t derail the story (mixed-metaphors aside), yet chipped paint remains to remind you of the prang. Come the final reel, it no longer matters with enough love and emotion in the room to warm the coolest hearts.

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