That was actually a lot better than I was expecting.
I mean that as a compliment. From the trailer, showing the main character living a double life, especially when one was obviously quite luxurious, I was worried it was gonna be a bit Anna Karenina. You know, Oh poor Anna! All she has is everything, no wonder she’s so sad! But Madeleine Collins is actually a really complex character.
At the beginning of the film, you are introduced to the main character, who flits between the names Judith Fauvet and Margot Soriano. Judith is married to a wealthy and famous conductor, Melvil, and has two sons who are edging into teenagehood. Margot is living with her partner, Abdel, and her young daughter, Ninon.
At first you don’t know anything about their situation, and assume she is keeping everyone in the dark. I mean, she does lie to everybody. And she is stressed out her nut trying to keep all these plates spinning, this has obviously been going on for a while. But her sons are now getting of an age to be suspicious, and Ninon is becoming more and more upset when her mum leaves for half the week.
I assumed the main character was just a selfish bampot, who thought she could have everything and had fooled herself into thinking she wasn’t hurting anybody if they didn’t know. And now it’s becoming clear that gaslighting the people you love isn’t good for them regardless of whether they ever officially ‘find out’. In short, I was judgemental as fuck.
The rest of this review is kinda spoilers for the film so if you’re already convinced to see it, bail out now and go see it.
As the film goes on, more and more hints come out that the men know what’s going on. Then her parents show up one day at Abdel’s house, and you’re like, “What the fuck?!” Margot is not just any pseudonym. Margot is the name of Judith’s sister who died in a freak accident, and Judith took on raising Ninon when Abdel went to pieces after her death. In their shared grief, Abdel and her turned to each other for comfort, which became love. And as Ninon grew, Judith being her mother was all she ever knew.
Far from being selfish, Judith took on responsibility for Margot’s life, making sure her child didn’t grow up motherless, and providing comfort and love to her husband in his darkest hours. Then she fell in love with him, and they were all locked into an impossible situation. And she’s actually sacrificed her health and wellbeing to do it. She is cracking up. The pressure of the unmeetable demands, the constant ducking and dodging, trying to keep her story straight. It’s made her into someone she never wanted to be.
I really liked her character. Her actions are both harmful and merciful at the same time. She can be both selfish and selfless in the same action. And there is such a well of grief that has effectively led her to try keeping her sister alive by living her life.
Really interesting film, surprisingly gripping.