Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom/France, 2015. British Film Institute, Amaro Films, Motion Group Pictures, Connectic Studio. Screenplay by Andrew Steggall. Cinematography by Brian Fawcett. Produced by Pietro Greppi, Cora Palfrey, Guillaume Tobo. Music by Jools Scott. Production Design by Marie-Camille Riff-Sbrugnera. Costume Design by Holly Waddington. Film Editing by Dounia Sichov.
Juliet Stevenson and teenage son Alex Lawther show up at their French provincial summer home and begin packing up, the relative boredom of the quiet village they are isolated in broken up by her impending divorce from her husband. For Lawther there is also the appearance of a tough young man (Phénix Brossard) he spots swimming in the nearby reservoir, there to visit his aunt and get away from his own sadness at home. Befriending the boy becomes a maturing experience for our young hero, whose faith in his increasingly fragile mother is beginning to fade, while she notices the burgeoning affection her son has for this rough but personable young man but is constantly beset by the sorrow and doubt that the breakup of her marriage has caused for her. Shot beautifully and featuring a minimum number of contrivances, the film is commendable for the genuine interest it has in exploring its characters’ emotional contradictions without ever judging them for their failures to live up to their potential. Lawther is sweetly subtle in the lead and enjoys terrific chemistry with his more volatile co-star, but there’s a point towards the last third when this likable but highly familiar set up becomes too chocked by its sobriety and makes one desperate for air. There’s only so much misery that can be indulged in by the lively and capable Stevenson before one begs an actress of a proven incredible range to show off a little humour (she doesn’t seem to mind too much that her son is gay, let her enjoy herself a little). This film not charming enough to be great, but it is respectable and despite its slow and quiet pace is not boring.