There’s something about this thriller that reminds me of the middle range of French films I used to see at film festivals back in the late-1990s, accomplished, well-crafted with a strong sense of style and excellent lead performances, but yet relatively restrained auteurist pretentions. Like Claude Chabrol’s films, then, perhaps, and his oeuvre has certainly come up in relation to this first film by filmmaker Jeanne Herry. The plot starts out with what is quite possibly my least favourite narrative trope — or at least what seems like it — the death of a woman to give emotional complexity to a male lead. I say it seems like this is the case because in fact this death leads pop star Vincent (Laurent Lafitte) into a series of increasingly foolish decisions, and it’s the character of his superfan Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain) which comes to take centre stage. The extreme situation is a vehicle by which to break down the relationship between fan and celebrity (the title, incidentally, translates as “she adores him”), as Vincent’s emotional stability becomes more and more tied to the actions of Muriel — the opposite of what had been the relationship up until then. It also seems to allow Muriel to rein in some of her own delusional fantasising and oddly to regain a healthier balance in her own life. This, though, would all be for nothing were it not for Kiberlain’s fantastic and inscrutable central performance, which slowly draws the viewer in and holds their attention, giving what might be a tedious psychological thriller an edge of blackly comic charm. Somehow, then, the film navigates its emotional terrain to become something almost rather delightful, after what seemed such an unpromising start.
Director Jeanne Herry; Writers Herry and Gaëlle Macé; Cinematographer Axel Cosnefroy; Starring Sandrine Kiberlain, Laurent Lafitte; Length 105 minutes.
Seen at Ciné Lumière, London, Thursday 19 March 2015.