Director: Mélanie Laurent
Starring: Marie Denarnaud, Denis Ménochet, Mélanie Laurent, Clémentine Célarié
Duration: 100 min.
Lisa and her adopted sister Marine have been inseparable since they were kids. Along with Lisa’s mother Millie, they have forged a deep bond that protects them from life’s hard knocks. There is little place for men in their lives but when Marine falls in love, their world is thrown off balance. Everybody tries their best to find a new equilibrium, but tragedy soon strikes and the family must realign with a new reality in order to turn loss into hope and love.
The Adopted is the feature length directorial debut from French actress Mélanie Laurent, co-written with Christophe Deslandes and Morgan Perez. It was released theatrically in France in November 2011.
After a couple of shorts, including one shown at Cannes in 2008, and an erotic adult film for French pay TV channel Canal+, Laurent delivers a quaint and quirky indie drama in a similar vein to that of her recent outing in Mike Mills' Beginners. This one follows a tight-knit three woman family unit in the French city of Lyon. Millie (Clémentine Célarié) is the alcoholic matriarch who has sworn off men; Lisa (Laurent) her daughter, is a musician and a single mother; and adopted sister Marie (Marie Denarnaud) is a bookseller specializing in English books.
It has a promising start, the unique family dynamics are well presented, but the narrative soon gets conventional. Shy Marie meets and falls in love with the perfectly charming Alex (Denis Menochet, who you might also recognize from the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds), the family routine is shaken up, and things turn into a landslide of typical melodramatic mush. The result is a predictable and over sentimental cry-fest dotted with the requisite intentionally cute and funny moments and unsubtle music cues.
It's not all bad though, the entire cast of characters are watchable and they do share great chemistry which translates into some very entertaining individual moments. Also Laurent shows some promise behind the camera, with a strong eye for visual flair that cinematographer Arnaud Potier captures well. Unfortunately it's not the powerhouse debut I was hoping for.
— Bonjour Tristesse