Thursday, May 21, 2015

Deneuve stars in stylish French thriller

In the Name of My Daughter, opening Friday at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, is a smart sophisticated French whodunit, the likes of which we haven’t seen around here in some time. And it makes more than sense that the star of the film should be none other than the classiest lady to have ever performed before the cameras in the post-World War II era - Catherine Deneuve. Here Deneuve plays Renée Le Roux, the elegant doyenne of the Palais de La Mediterranée casino in Nice. It’s the late 1970s. Her daughter Agnès (Adèle Haenel), following a broken marriage, has just returned home from Africa. She wants to open a store selling African artifacts but she needs money. The casino is running a deficit and her mother, known for running a fair if tight ship, is reluctant to cash out Adèle’s shares. Meanwhile Agnès becomes infatuated by Renée’s business advisor, a lawyer named Maurice Agnelet (Guillaume Canet), 10 years her senior. Maurice, not yet divorced, is a womanizer. Adèle falls hard for Maurice, who likes his freedom and hates women’s emotions. But he goes along enough with the relationship to swing a deal with a reputed mobster, and rival casino owner, to get cash and split the proceeds into two accounts - his and Adèle’s - “symbolic” of their shared love. In return Adèle, at a casino board meeting, votes directly against her mother, to turn over control of the casino to her benefactor, rival casino owner Fratoni. Fratoni then liquidates the casino, blaming its finances on Renée’s poor management. A developer is in the wings and wants to convert the Palais into luxury apartments. Adèle, having in part compromised her principles for her lover, finds her love unrequited. Maurice withdraws more and more and Adèle, obsessed with him, even begins stalking. Starved for attention she attempts suicide. In October 1977 - the movie is based on true events - she eventually disappears, her body never found. ”My journey is over,” her diary reads. “I want Maurice to take care of everything.” And so he does, transferring her three million franc share into his account. “It was what she wanted,” he says. Years later, Renée, forlorn as an old woman living in a bare bones flat, presses the local prosecutor to reopen her daughter’s case. In the Name of My Daughter is a stylish detective thriller, with taut acting all around under the assured directorial hand of French master André Téchiné, known for probing the complex interpersonal motives that underlie human affairs. Deneuve, at the top of her game - still after all these years - displays her trademark controlled emotion under that ever so elegant and civilized exterior.

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