André Téchiné’s engrossing and original drama of teenage male turmoil is enriched immeasurably by its assured inclusion of female perspective, thanks to a script co-written by Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, NZIFF15) and an inspired performance from Sandrine Kiberlain. In her most substantial role in years, Kiberlain plays a mother who unwittingly comes between her son (a mercurial Kacey Mottet Klein) and the classmate who embodies everything he thinks he loathes.
High in the spectacular Pyrenees, Marianne (Kiberlain), the local doctor, is called out to an isolated farm to tend to an ailing woman. She takes an instant liking to Thomas (Corentin Fila), her patient’s adopted son, a handsome young North African whose easy masculine competence impresses her. When the boy’s mother is admitted to hospital, Marianne invites Thomas to stay in town, near the hospital, with her and her son, his tauntingly brainy classmate Damien. She’s unaware of the longstanding antagonism between the two. Soon she is confronting the most outrageous flare-ups, and facing up to the anxiety, competition, loneliness, paternal absence and sexual hunger that fuel their passionate hostility – and might also unlock it.