At first, I wasn't even sure if this was an appropriate AITH flick. There had to be less than an ounce of blood throughout the entire running time. But my suspicions were soon put to rest once this subtle, unassuming pot-boiler got to the nitty of its gritty. And the main reason this pesky worm kept me dangling on the hook? The incredible performances!
Catherine Frot delivered one hauntingly layered depiction of a grieving mother struggling with her gut feelings versus her impending insanity. Great work! So damn believable! Frot's subtle "stalker" side was ideally counterbalanced by Sandrine Bonnaire's portrayal of an increasingly uncomfortable and protective mommy. Every single emotional nuance of both actresses' performance was pitch perfect and added a rare dose of realism that truly benefited the proceedings.
Indeed, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how real the film felt. You won't find an iota of cliché stuck to this ANGEL's wings. Every action, every spoken word seemed like it would happen in real life. If you're looking to spin out a suspense yarn, a solid sense of realism is one big-time, tingle-inducing weapon to have! There was a "stalker scene" that took place during the daughter's dance recital that was so well-editing and scored I literally got chills! And it was during a bunch of 7 year-old girls prancing around in tutus!
The only bone I suppose I have to pick with the film also stems from the strong devotion to realism. I guess I was hoping for something huge in terms of where this interesting inter-family grudge match was going to end up. Not to say that the conclusion was poor (because it wasn't). The filmmakers had done such a great job constructing their tale that I was expecting some kind of grand finale. That did not occur. In a way, the film sort of just ends in the same way that it would have ended in real life, which I still feel is pretty commendable within the confines of the current movie climate.
Audio French 5.1 Dolby Digital, with English subtitles