Keswick Film Club - Reviews - The Midwife

Reviews - The Midwife

The Midwife

Reviewed By Chris Coombes

The Midwife
The Midwife
Last Sunday's film – 'The Midwife'- stars Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve, two greats of French cinema. Frot (Claire) is a rather up-tight single mother of a grown son who loves her work as a midwife and turns to her allotment for rest and recreation. Deneuve (Beatrice) is the ex-mistress of her father, fun-loving and reckless, who seeks help and support from Claire when she learns she is dying of a brain tumour and that her chaotic lifestyle has left her without friends.

Beatrice is shocked to find out that Claire's father committed suicide soon after Beatrice left him and Claire, and both women have no choice other than to cope with their feelings about the past and with each other. Claire is angry and righteous; Beatrice is distraught and needy. The two characters could not be more different, but they have their love of Claire's father in common and this enables them to move towards each other to form a caring and forgiving relationship that gives both something they clearly need. The film is directed by César-award winning director Martin Provost ('Séraphine').

This should have been a great film given all these elements, but for me it wasn't. It seemed muddled, over-long and in many ways not at all convincing – and it became less convincing as it drew to a conclusion, with an often uncomfortable love affair for Claire thrown into the mix. I would guess that many of the audience thoroughly enjoyed its gentle humour and superb acting – particularly from the two lead women, both of whom have so much to offer. However, I left feeling disappointed and short-changed because the film seemed to miss numerous opportunities to delve a bit deeper into the lives of these two fascinating women.

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