Wednesday, 21 March 2018

FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: CUSTODY (JUSQU'A LA GARDE)

8/10

Antoine and Miriam have been divorced for a while but are still locked in a custody battle for the young son Julian. When a judge grants the shared custody rights to the father the conflict escalates to the point of no return…

CUSTODY is an intense modern drama that cuts to the bone. How ugly and terrifying a divorce could be? Slowly sliding into the territory of a thriller it is hard to take sides until one of the spouses totally loses control.

This is only a second film from Xavie Legrand. Reminiscent of this year’s Oscar nominated film LOVELESS, the film does few favours to either parent, describing the divorce in all its ugliness, and only closer to the end does it take sides as the villain emerges. There’s no surprise who of the spouses comes out as the evil one, but the final fifteen minutes are spine tingling. Adding to the tension is the absolute realism of what is shown onscreen. Denis Menochet and Lea Drucker are both terrific. For most of the film they don’t say much, the camera focuses on their faces, their eyes, and we get all we need to know without a word spoken.

CUSTODY is not an easy film to take in, but it definitely is engaging and once you are hooked it won’t let go. The soundtrack is minimalistic, the exterior shots are gloomy and the atmosphere of quiet dread slowly building towards a very realising and devastating climax.

CUSTODY is not a movie for everyone but it is a great example of what modern independent cinema is about.

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