Directed by: Denis Dercourt
Countries & Regions: France
Length: 97 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 26 March 2007
Cat No: ART338DVD
Screen ratio 1:1.78
Dolby Digital 5.1
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The Page Turner
French psychological thriller. Embittered by an event from the past that thwarted her musical ambitions, Mélanie (Déborah Francois)... Read More
Ariane, a renowned concert pianist, absent-mindedly signs an autograph and unconsciously seals her fate in Denis Dercourt's marvellous, suspenseful new film The Page Turner (aka La Tourneuse de Pages). Her unthinking behaviour has distracted the piano recital of Mélanie (Déborah François), a serious child protégé who has vowed she will never play again if the recital goes badly. She fluffs the audition, and Mélanie gives up her practice, but years later she encounters Ariane (who does not recognise her) again, and agrees to work as her page-turner. Will she exact her revenge?
The tension is expertly handled by Dercourt, and he continually surprises the audience. It is expected that Mélanie will deliberately fumble the page-turning at the film's denouement, ruining the musician's comeback performance, yet the crucial concert takes place some time before the conclusion, and does not unfold as one may suspect. The director toys with expectations throughout - Mélanie's reaction when a lecherous musician makes a pass at her is shocking precisely because of her previous restrained behaviour.
François is one of the most exciting young actresses at work today. After a brilliant performance in the Dardennes'
L'Enfant as the vulnerable mother whose boyfriend sells her baby, she confirms her talent as the sinister Mélanie, a vengeful girl expert at duping those close to her. She is no stock villainess, however - at one point she lets her façade break, beaming with genuine delight when she encounters an old friend. She is a complex, unpredictable protagonist, and all the more fascinating because of it. Catherine Frot is also superb as Ariane - vulnerable and anxious enough so we empathise with her, yet inconsiderate and haughty so that are sympathies are torn.
With so much suspenseful build-up, the film needs to deliver a killer ending, and Dercourt, who is already drawing favourable comparisons to Claude Chabrol, does not disappoint. A shot of cruel irony, beautifully played and sublimely subdued in its terrible implications for one of the characters, it is the perfect ending to a highly impressive thriller.