Claire is a midwife in a maternity hospital. She is humane and helpful and gives herself entirely to her patients. But for all that her life is not a bed of roses. Her hospital is about to close its doors and the devoted woman is determined not to work in the new modern hospital she regards as a "baby factory". Her personal life is no triumph either: she is single and does not make friends easily. To make matters worse, her student son Simon is gradually leaving home, as he is developing a relationship with his new sweetheart Lucie. It is the moment that chooses Béatrice, her dead father's former mistress, to resurface. The eccentric, spendthrift, sensual, amoral woman (Claire's exact opposite in fact) is really the last kind of person she needs to mix with. But Béatrice soon informs her that she suffers from brain cancer and she has nobody else to turn to. Torn between rejection and duty, what is Claire going to do ? Written by
Beautiful performances from Catherine(s) The Greats
I really enjoyed this movie; in part as it starred my favorite actress from 2016: Catherine Frot, and her exquisite performance as 'Marguerite'. Frot has such stillness and poise on screen, but can also command great presence with minimal effort. Here, as the titular 'Midwife, Catherine Frot is delivered a role that gives her a chance to really shine. From the opening scenes her 'Claire' is a good woman; a skilled professional but lacking a personal life or much hope it seems. Blessed with a son she only sees fleetingly, her life is turned upside down when Beatrice played by Catherine Deneuve re-enters her radius after vanishing more than 3 decades before and causing Claire's father (one time lover of Beatrice) irreparable damage and an indelible imprint for young Claire. It is a fascinating dance that these two characters create through their often awkward scenes together.
The film is only a success because of the chemistry between these two marvellous actresses. The narrative ambles all over the place, messily edited and at times a little predictable, but seeing these two share the screen is pure magic, and compensates for where the film is otherwise lacking. Beneath the choppy script lies some rich fabric about life and death; life changes and the power of forgiveness and redemption: always soulful pursuits for the big screen. I wanted this to be perfection; of course it is not. Catherine Deneuve deserves an Oscar nomination for this; she is unafraid to show her age; her flaws and creates a memorable screen character, a former good time gal, whose life is slipping away from her, as she clings to the joie devivre that had sustained her. It is a privilege to watch a screen icon; still beautiful, but displaying how beauty can fade. There is much dignity here from both Catherine the Greats!
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