In Your Hands/Contre Toi

Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 01:00

Directed by Lola Doillon. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Pio Marmaï, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Marie- Sohna Condé, Marie-Christine Orry, Vinciane Millereau 15A cert, IFI, Dublin, 81 min

ANOTHER DAY, another French movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas. No British person has so concerned himself or herself with Gallic affairs since Horatio Nelson. Her latest picture is a taut, somewhat one-dimensional chamber piece dealing with a class of Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s a relief to see Scott Thomas breaking free from the conventional bourgeois dramas she so often inhabits. But, even at a parsimonious 81 minutes, In Your Hands feels over-extended.

We begin with KST emerging into a grimy street and making her way miserably home to an upmarket, sterile apartment. Noting that the star is wearing an uncharacteristically dowdy ensemble of T-shirt and combat trousers, we correctly assume that something awful is afoot.

Sure enough, it transpires that the protagonist, an obstetrician, has just escaped after being kidnapped by a disturbed individual. The film then flashes back to tell the story of her confinement, before returning to deliver a final downbeat bookend.

Lola Doillon’s film, released nearly two years ago in its native territory, hangs perilously upon the slippery relationship between agitated captor and cool, distanced victim. There are the makings of a decent two-handed play in the scenario. Scott Thomas does a good job of allowing cracks to gradually show in her stiff demeanour. Pio Marmaï is disturbingly distraught as the damaged aggressor.

Unfortunately, the film’s revelations are never sufficiently jolting. Most viewers will, within minutes, have deduced the kidnapper’s motivations. The gradual drift towards mutual understanding feels a bit forced and more than a little implausible. These are the sorts of things that happen in movies. Real life is rarely quite so determined by neat story arcs.

That said, In Your Hands does have real emotional purchase.

The leads fling themselves so enthusiastically into their roles that it proves hard not be carried along by the melodrama. It will certainly do well enough until the French next welcome KST into their lives.