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Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Jun. 21, 2015 5 years ago

Film Review: 'In the Name of My Daughter'

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The title itself is a spoiler but the film is worth a watch due to strong performances by enticing French actors and stunning cinematography.

"In the Name of My Daughter" is an interesting story but poorly executed. The title itself is a spoiler but the film is worth a watch due to strong performances by enticing French actors and stunning cinematography. 

Based on actual events, the narrative begins in 1976 and culminates thirty years later. The setting is the lush and exquisite French Riviera. Renee La Roux (Catherine Deneuve) ran the second largest casino and began to fall on hard times likely engineered by a rival affiliated with the Mafia. When her daughter, Agnes (Adele Haenel), returns to Nice she demands the inheritance left by her father but Renee refuses.

Renee's attorney, Maurice Agnelet (Gulliaume Canet), expected to become the casino's new manager and he, too, is denied. The manipulative Maurice convinces Agnes, who has seat on the board of directors, to vote against Renee as he seduces her. The betrayal evolves into the closure of the casino and familial friction. Maurice eventually dumps Agnes who attempts suicide and subsequently, disappears. He legally collects over two million of her inheritance and flees to Panama.

Suddenly it's 2006. Agnes remains missing and Renee is convinced that Maurice murdered her. She mounts an effort to have him prosecuted and after thirty years, he returns to France to clear his name. The legal outcome is sketchy. First, he's acquitted. Then later, based on his own son's testimony, Maurice is sentenced to twenty years in prison. Go figure ... it's French.

This is the seventh collaboration between director Andre Techine and Denueve since 1981. And it is quite obvious he worships this stoic beauty's evolving talent. At age 71, Deneuve is ravishing. From Polanski's "Repulsion" in 1965, we've watch her become one of great actors of all time. In this portrayal of a devastated and devoted mother who forfeits everything to obtain justice for her beloved daughter, she pulls out all the stops.

"In the Name of My Daughter" had the potential to become a taut thriller but sadly sinks into sluggish storytelling. What could have been so much more, should have been, given the calibre of talent involved.
 

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