Acclaimed movie features two much-loved French actresses

The Midwife, Starring Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot
The Midwife, Starring Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot

The promise of the French film showing at the Curzon Cinema next Wednesday September 13, for one day only lies more in its stars than in its name.

To be frank, The Midwife, is not the most alluring of titles, but this very pleasing piece brings together two of France’s leading actresses.

If Catherine Deneuve needs no introduction, the name of Catherine Frot may not register so strongly, although anyone who saw her in Marguerite will require no reminder of her remarkable talent.

In this new film from Martin Provost, it is Frot who plays the title role. She appears as Claire, a woman who is a single mother and devoted to her work in a maternity unit threatened with closure.

Although now in midlife and with a job that consumes her time, Claire may yet build up a romantic attachment with a neighbour (Olivier Gourmet). However, aside from Claire herself, by far the most significant character here is Béatrice, the role played by Catherine Deneuve.

Some thirty years earlier Béatrice had been the mistress of Claire’s father, now deceased, and she, unaware of his death, reappears to disclose a crisis in her own life.

Few films revolve around two female characters, but this one does and memorably so. It’s a film made most successfully in an appealingly popular style, but its prime virtue lies in its two leading players: both Catherines are Great. By Alex Buchan