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The Midwife

Rated Parental Guidance (Coarse Language, Nudity) ~ Runs 117 minutes

Dir.: Martin Provost, France

Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet
In French with English subtitles

The second career of Catherine Deneuve is one of the ongoing pleasures of Western cinema... At 73, she keeps opening up and challenging herself, as in The Midwife, in which she is paired with France’s other great Catherine, Catherine Frot. The film is about two women coming to terms with a wounding event from long in the past. Frot plays the title character, Claire, a midwife... Warm and giving in her work, she is otherwise withdrawn and distant, reluctant to be lured into any emotional contact. And then she gets a phone call from Beatrice (Deneuve), who was the great love of her father’s life, some 30 years before... Beatrice has a lust for adventure, as well as for alcohol, cigarettes and red meat, and her life has been a series of romantic liaisons. She knows how to have a good time, and Claire does not, and the easiest formulation would have been to have Beatrice’s influence result in a blossoming of Claire’s spirit. That is not entirely different from what actually happens in The Midwife, but it feels different, because the details are varied and there is nothing cliched here, not in the script, the direction or the performances. Beatrice is no wise woman. She is impulsive, needy and something of a mess, someone who has been improvising her way through life and now has nothing to show for it but a few rings and some ribald stories. And Claire is no big stiff... Thus, we get a closely observed, intelligently imagined and realized presentation of contrasting personalities. Frot is superb (as always)... As for Deneuve, she is a joy, with her funny combination of natural dignity and utter confusion, and surface cynicism that yet loves every moment - the most fun, wise and jolly person in any room she enters, yet capable of the sudden plunge into pained and deep emotion. If you want to fall in love with Catherine Deneuve, don’t start with her youth. Start with her here, in her 70s, and then work your way back.” - Mick LaSalle - The San Francisco Chronicle

When The Midwife plays...
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February 18