Opening 1 Nov 2012
Everyone knows the famous radio voice of Claire Martin, a.k.a. Mélina (Karin Viard). For thousands of listeners, asking for advice on love and household quarrels, she is a friend and confidante. Nobody would believe that this 40-year-old woman is a very troubled, withdrawn person. She lives alone in a stylish flat, is neurotic, sleeps in her cupboard and shies away from any contact with people.
Mélina cannot forget that she was deserted as a small child, and ever since she landed in an orphanage wondered what happened to her mother. When she receives the information where her mother Joelle (Nadia Barentin) lives, she drives from her posh suburb to the shabby little row-house in the hope to get a glimpse of her. By coincidence she meets Lucas (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a young man who immediately overwhelms her with his self-confidence. He spontaneously invites her to his party. There she sees her mother, a relaxed and lively woman. With envy and longing Mélina watches her fussing over a little girl. This is the motherly love she had been missing all her life. Abruptly she leaves the house dropping her I.D. card on the floor. Lucas finds the card, is surprised to learn of her “second” identity and tries to return it. Only the cleaning woman answers the door. He discovers Mélina at a café near by and wants to join her for lunch. She reacts unfriendily and claims to wait for someone. Unimpressed Lucas just sits down at the adjoining table and starts communicating with her. Mélina realises that he is a talented photographer and encourages him to follow his talent. Once more she is able to give valid advice to others but still hides behind a façade. It is time to get in touch with her own realities by stopping to look for the lost love as a little girl and accept to be loved as a woman.
This unsentimental story is the first long film by the French director Pierre Pinaud (with several prizes for his short films, i.e. César 2009). He wrote the script with much empathy for the characters but also with a lot of humour. Karin Viard (Le Skylab, Potiche) finds a good balance between the “artificial Mélina” and the real person Claire Martin. She is perfectly partnered with the charismatic Nicolas Duvauchelle (Polisse, La Fille du RER). On camera is Guillaume Deffontaines. The film is dedicated to the well-loved theatre actress Nadia Barentin (in her last role before her death in 2011). (Birgit Schrumpf)