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Catherine Frot plays Claire, the midwife of the title. She is even-tempered, methodical, and unassuming. Catherine Deneuve is Beatrice – the polar opposite of Claire. She is capricious, immodest and lively – and she was once the mistress of Claire’s father. Years after abruptly ending the affair and disappearing without further communication, Beatrice suddenly reappears in Claire’s life. She has debts, no permanent address and terminal cancer. This unlikely pair is thrown together with forced proximity that allows them to reconstruct the past, challenge each other’s and their own values and ultimately reach some sort of closure.

The performances are outstanding, with Frot and Deneuve giving depth to their characters and credibility to a story that teeters on melodrama. There is enough humour, particularly from Deneuve, to prevent the film descending into morbidity, and excellent support from Olivier Gourmet as Claire’s would-be love interest, Paul, and Quentin Dolmaire as Simon, Claire’s directionless son.

[French with English subtitles]

★★★1/2

Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.