Kristin Scott Thomas impresses in this compelling study of a kidnapping that gives way to melodrama.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the premise. A middle-class doctor kidnapped by an unstable patient with a grudge. A victim who grows to love her captor. A captor who grows to love his victim. Or does she? Or does he? Or do they?
Every time you think Lola Doillon’s claustrophobic yet strangely lightweight drama has reached a firm conclusion, it pulls a bait-and-switch and leaves you instead with yet another would-be provocative twist. As narrative cinema goes, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, but it does make it harder to invest in the emotional reality of
misused medic, Anna (Kristin Scott Thomas). It’s telling that the film’s opening 15 minutes are its most effective, attempting to make you feel something rather than cheating you into thinking something. Anna escapes from what it later transpires was a days-long ordeal. Shellshocked, she makes her way home.
The tiny realities of returning to life as she left it following this incomprehensible trauma (the voicemails that have built up on her phone are a resonant detail) are evoked in brisk, subtle strokes. One wishes the film retained its focus on this period, but Doillon instead uses it only as a framing device for flashbacks to Anna’s time as a prisoner. Her captor, Yann (Pio Marmaï), is an unstable man out to avenge his wife, who died in ambiguous circumstances.
Giving his character a sympathetic motive is presumably designed to offset the viciousness with which he treats Anna, but he’s such a one-note brute that his reasoning barely registers. What’s worse is his abrupt transformation into a plausible romantic hero.
The emotional dynamics of Stockholm syndrome deserve a more thorough exploration than they receive here, where whiplash-inducing U-turns render the entire third act dimly ludicrous.
Perhaps this is how the syndrome really works, but fidelity to reality is not an excuse for a failure to convince on film.
Familiar premise, but the compact cast and psychological focus intrigues.
A compelling study of a kidnapping that gives way to melodrama.
Kristin Scott Thomas impresses, but the third act turns everything to mush.