The debut feature of French writer-director Xavier Legrand transforms a straightforward depiction of domestic violence into something like a horror movie, and it’s so harrowing that it borders on the exploitive. After he loses custody of his son, Antoine (Denis Ménochet) turns terrorizing stalker toward his ex, Miriam (Léa Drucker), and 11-year-old Julien (Thomas Gioria). As his violence escalates, there is not one whit of surprise about anything that Antoine does or says: Men like Antoine behave in real life in extremely predictable ways, almost as if they’re following a script. That Antoine is a fictional character literally following a script feels like a bad joke, particularly when the movie makes not the slightest suggestion that what we’re witnessing is simply everyday life for far too many women and children. Legrand is an incredibly talented director; tension hangs over absolutely every moment of the film. But to what end? He has created a high-toned slasher flick that ultimately diminishes terrible reality by turning it into suspense entertainment that sits too readily next to “fun” horror movies about killer clowns and masked axe murderers.
Director: Xavier Legrand
Producer: Alexandre Gavras
Cast: Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria, Mathilde Auneveux, Mathieu Saïkaly, Florence Janas, Saadia Bentaïeb, Sophie Pincemaille, Émilie Incerti-Formentini, Jérome Care-Aulanier, Coralie Russier and Jenny Bellay