Cinema review: The Adopted

Starring: Melanie Laurent, Marie Denarnaud, Denis Menochet

Director: Melanie Laurent

Certificate: TBC

Running time: 100 minutes

Melanie Laurent clearly likes challenging herself. Not content with easing her way into the director’s chair at just 28, the actress also decided to film her debut offering in Lyon rather than her home city of Paris. With Laurent operating outside her comfort zone, it comes as little surprise that The Adopted is a little rough around the edges, although there are signs that she might yet blossom into a film-maker of note.

Laurent stars as Lisa, a musician who lives for her family – son Leo (Theodore Maquet-Foucher), mother Millie (Cl�mentine C�lari�) and adopted sister Marine (Denarnaud). When Marine starts an affair with restaurant critic Alex (Menochet), it threatens the bond she shares with her sister, but then a pregnant Marine is involved in an accident.

From the outset it is clear The Adopted will be a daring debut. In exploring themes of loss and love between sisters, Laurent boldly combines voice-overs, quirky characters, inventive camera angles and an interesting structure (the film is divided into three parts, each focusing on a crucial character) in a way that makes one feel you are watching an American Indie film. It is a style that at times is intoxicating, with scenes involving the cute-as-a-button Foucher particularly impressive.

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Laurent is evidently also skilled at drawing out strong performances from older actors, with Denarnaud and Menochet believable as couple falling in love. In fact, Denarnaud is so striking that her injury-enforced absence in the last two-thirds of The Adopted really hurts the film. It doesn’t help that Laurent slowly loses the plot after Marine lands up in hospital, the director allowing things to become too strange and melodramatic. Still, this remains a decent first step in a directorial career that should be well worth following.

CINEMA

Bel Ami (from 2 March) is based on Guy de Maupassant’s novel and features Twilight star Robert Pattinson as a scoundrel who, through affairs with wealthy women, rises to power in late 19th-century Paris.

Blank City (from 2 March) is French-born director Celine Danhier’s critically acclaimed documentary exploring independent film-making in 1970s New York.

The Kid With A Bike (Le Gamin au V�lo) (from 23 March), which won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2011, focuses on a young boy in a Belgian town who, after being abandoned by his father, is tutored by a woman hairdresser.

DVD

Hugo (26 March) is Martin Scorsese’s whimsical adventure about an orphan living in a 1930s Paris railway station who unravels a mystery by fixing an automaton built by his late father.

Tomboy (27 February) features Zo� H�ran as 10-year-old Laure who discovers how the other half lives when she is mistaken for a boy, in C�line Sciamma’s coming-of-age film).