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Jusqu’à la garde

Winner of the Best Director and Best First Feature prizes at the Venice Film Festival, this taut, tense drama heralds an exciting filmmaker to watch.


Dir-Scr Xavier Legrand
Prod Alexandre Gavras
With Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria
Sales Celluloid Dreams

Myriam (Drucker) has recently left husband Antoine (Ménochet), and while she’s happy to let her 17-year-old daughter decide for herself, she’s doesn’t want her youngest, Julien (Gioria), to see a father she claims is violent. But the judge rules otherwise, and the boy becomes a pawn in a bitter parental conflict… Legrand confirms the promise of his Oscar-nominated short with one of the most impressive feature debuts of recent years. From the first scene, his all-round expertise is immediately apparent in the astute dialogue, the meticulous framing, cutting and pacing, the expressive use of sound, and the superb performances of a uniformly excellent cast. Psychological precision and the skilful building of suspense are foremost among the film’s many virtues, while Legrand makes eloquent use of ambiguity throughout, so that the characters – all prone to contradictory impulses while trying to do their best – remain sympathetic and utterly human, however badly they sometimes behave. Frighteningly credible and, we should remember, all too relevant.

Geoff Andrew

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