Frot is superb (as always), giving us a full sense of Claire’s inner life despite the reticence of the character’s outward manner. The key is the passion that Claire invests in her work. Frot is telling us that this is a woman of feeling, so that when Claire does start to thaw, Frot doesn’t need a Jekyll and Hyde transformation to make it real. It was always there; we saw it — off in a corner, but there.
As for Deneuve, she is a joy, with her funny combination of natural dignity and utter confusion, and surface cynicism that yet loves every moment — the most fun, wise and jolly person in any room she enters, yet capable of the sudden plunge into pained and deep emotion. If you want to fall in love with Catherine Deneuve, don’t start with her youth. Start with her here, in her 70s, and then work your way back.
Starring Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve. Directed by Martin Provost. In French with English subtitles.
Unrated. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 57 minutes.
Bottom line: An intelligently imagine presentation of contrasting personalities