Claire (Catherine Frot) is very proper. She is an experienced midwife, she raised her son by herself, she doesn't drink and has very little interest in men. Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) is a larger than life booze artist and a gambler, living her life to the fullest. Beatrice used to be Claire's stepmother and she comes back, out of the blue, thirty years later to make amends for the sins of the past. How will the relationship of these two very different women work out?
Building the script around two leading ladies THE MIDWIFE delivers when Deneuve and Frot go head to head. Comedy here works best, while dramatic undertones are too subtle to be touching. Deneuve is having a ball portraying a fading beauty who never worked in her life, free spirited, generous and flamboyant, but also incredibly lonely.
Director Martin Provost loves making movies about women, both historical figures and imaginary ones. But his films are also long and THE MIDWIFE runs out of steam by the end of its two hours. Provost's talent to showcase character emotions though simple everyday things may not appeal to someone who is impatient.
The atmosphere of French country town is charming but also bleak, with a minimalistic soundtrack and grey pallet, that only comes alive with vibrant colours when Deneuve is on screen.
Competently made, carefully paced with the right dosage of humour and drama THE MIDWIFE is worth seeing for the two legendary leading ladies, but even their performances cannot mask a few dull moments caused by the overly long running time.