Thursday, May 14, 2015

Not Without My Daughter

In the Name of My Daughter (2014) - Téchiné
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Based on the memoir of Renée Le Roux, about the disappearance of her daughter Agnes, André Téchiné, the French master of subtle psychological dramas, tackles real life intrigue with In the Name of My Daughter. The Le Roux case held on to French public's attention for the last 30 years and still retains some mystery. It is the esteemed director and Catherine Deneuve's 7th collaboration to date.

Deneuve plays Renée, a widow and owner of the last remaining casino that is not yet taken over by mafia. She is aided by her loyal lawyer Maurice (Guillaume Canet) to tread the troubling times. It's Maurice's cunning political maneuvering that makes Renée to take total control over the casino. But her daughter Agnes (Adèle Haenel, Water Lilies, House of Pleasures and this year's Cesar Award winner for Best Actress for Love at First Fight) arrives, expecting to cash in on her inheritance and set up a little business for herself. Athletic, sultry Agnes slowly but surely falls for studious and enigmatic Maurice who is married and also has a string of mistresses.

After getting rejected by Renée for advancement, Maurice, along with Agnes arranges for ousting of Renée from the leadership of the casino. Lovesick Agnes becomes completely dependent on him. Even though he tells her that he can never reciprocate the love she has for him, she leaves all her money matters to his able hands.

in the name of my daughter poster.JPGBut things aren't going well. Agnes, jealous of Maurice's other women, becomes suicidal and one day disappears without a trace. There are no evidences of foul play, except desperate phone calls made by Agnes to Maurice. Soon after, Maurice transfers all of Agnes's money to his account. After a long investigation, Maurice is cleared of any wrong doing.

Twenty years later, Maurice is flown back to France from South America where he lives now, to stand for the trial, accused of the murder and disappearance of Agnes, brought on by diligent work of Renée. Even though her daughter betrayed her along with him.

Building suspense or clear resolution is not what Téchiné's after in his films. Despite its terrible American title (its original title is L'homme qu'on aimait trop which means 'The Man Who Loved Too Much' which makes much more sense in the film's context), the film is yet another great example of Téchiné's astute examination of unpredictability/duplicity in human nature that he is known for.

All three principal actors are terrific in their own hammy roles. But it's Canet, whose becoming a major force in French cinema, steals the show. There is intensity and danger hidden behind his calm demeanor and small physique. He shines as a duplicitous Maurice, the inscrutable.

Beautiful French Riviera setting helps too, shot energetically by a veteran cinematographer Julien Hirsch (3 Hearts, Bird People, Godard's In Praise of Love and Notre Musique as well as Téchiné's Unforgivable and The Girl on the Train), the film is another strong outing from Téchiné.

In the Name of My Daughter opens in New York and LA in 5/15. National roll out will follow. Visit Cohen Media website for more info.

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