Opening 19 Jan 2023
This charming film is all about seeing and being seen. Maria (Karin Viard) is a middle-aged cleaning woman who takes a new job at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, a famous arts school in Paris. At first she’s completely overwhelmed and confused by the way the students behave and the artwork they make, so she does her best to blend into the background. But when Maria strikes up a friendship with art student Naomi (Noée Abita), she begins to break out of her shell, inspired by the younger woman’s creativity and confidence. Naomi isn’t the only one who’s noticed Maria: Hubert (Grégory Gadebois), the school’s caretaker, also has his eye on her. Surrounded by contemporary art and vivacious young artists, Maria finds the courage to open her eyes and her mind to new possibilities.
Viard gives a fantastic and compelling performance as she presents Maria’s transformation from mousy and awkward to more assured and willing to let herself ask for more from life and to see in herself what others do. This is a quiet movie, but it’s genuine and heartfelt – and blissfully optimistic about changing course and finding happiness. (Diana Schnelle)