Catherines Deneuve and Frot in an unlikely buddy movie is the selling point for this French effort, which looks like it’s ideally placed to hoover up some classic counter-programming demographics: the female, adult viewers underserved by blockbusters.
I’d like to say this could be the big sleeper summer hit we all need, that foreign charmer that’s as good as going on holiday. However, The Midwife isn’t that film.
It’s not charming, really, for starters. Deneuve is Beatrice, the blousy beauty returned after many years away to burst back into the life of dedicated midwife Claire (Frot). These are damaged, frosty women with secrets and wells of unhappiness.
Unravelling their past connection is really the meat of the movie, a relationship mystery. There’s not much action – ok, none – but director Martin Prevost trusts this pair will provide fireworks enough and as the title suggests, it’s also about new beginnings, being re-born to certain extent.
Nearly. The film doesn’t quite spark. I couldn’t quite care for either character, although it may be their shared womanhood is what really binds them. I didn’t buy it. I did like Olivier Gourmet as the big-hearted trucker who takes a shine to Claire on her allotment (growth, blossoming, cycles of life, you see?) and provides some perspective.
But there’s not enough journey here – not even a jaunt to the seaside, which is what little Paris-set films normally do in the third act – despite the excellence of both actresses, the sight of Deneuve smoking and gambling in an illegal den and the sounds of Serge Reggianni, on vinyl.