The Midwife: An unlikely crowd-pleaser
by Joseph Proimakis
- BERLIN 2017: Starring Catherine Deneuve as a cancer patient trying to reconnect with her alienated stepdaughter, Martin Provost’s new effort is one unexpected feel-good movie
Following up on his 2008 César-winning Séraphine [+see also:
film profile], 2011’s The Long Falling [+see also:
film profile] and 2013’s Violette [+see also:
film profile], Martin Provost visits the Berlinale to present the out-of-competition screening of The Midwife [+see also:
interview: Martin Provost
film profile], an unexpectedly feel-good dramedy about Beatrice, an estranged, cancer-ridden former wildcat of a stepmother trying to reconnect with her alienated stepdaughter, a zipped-up midwife. The film features a straight-up loveable Catherine Deneuve as the agent provocateur invading the orderly life of Catherine Frot as Claire, the titular character.
The two veteran thespians provide the movie with its irresistible character, with Deneuve’s exuberant charisma pitted against Prot’s demanding self-command, offering the sparks that drive the film’s story of a gentle and unexpected friendship kindled between one-time foes.
Competently shot and intriguingly edited by DoP Yves Cape and editor Albertine Lastera, Provost’s richly composed script embellishes its plot with an aspiring romance between Claire and Paul, a middle-aged truck driver portrayed by a refreshingly upbeat Olivier Gourmet, while the themes of family, love, acceptance and forgiveness are fleshed out by Quentin Dolmaire as Claire’s son, who proves to be more worshipful of his mother than she could ever have hoped for.
A bittersweet comedy about life and death, and the choices we make in between, a story about growing old – and growing in general – Provost’s film is most of all a tale about gracefully accepting life’s offerings, regardless of whether they are sweet or sour, and making something inspiring out of them.
Produced by France’s Curiosa Films, with Belgium’s Versus Production and French outfit France 3 Cinéma involved as co-producers, the film’s international sales are handled by Memento Films International.