Over 30 years, Catherine Corsini has proven herself to be a fine storyteller and she rises womanfully to the challenges set by Christine Angot’s autobiographical bestseller chronicling the fraught relationships between a half-Jewish Châteauroux secretary (Rachel), a haute-bourgeois Parisian translator (Philippe) and their conflicted illegitimate daughter (Chantal).
The fact that Corsini and co-scenarist Laurette Polmanss felt the need to have Jehnny Beth narrate as the adult Chantal suggests that they didn’t solve all of the problems posed by Angot’s provocative and deeply disconcerting text. But such is the brilliance of Virginie Efira’s performance that it’s impossible not to feel for the 25 year-old Rachel, as she is seduced and abandoned by the dashing Niels Schneider before enduring three decades of emotional turmoil, as he has a second family (after insisting he was not the marrying kind) and returns to alienate the affections of the teenage Chantal (Estelle Lescure).
With its impeccable design and photography, this is compelling and sophisticated melodrama.
David Parkinson, Radio Times