out of Five
Running time: 85
In Your Hands is an intriguing, emotionally complex drama with a terrific central performance from Kristin Scott Thomas, but it's also frustratingly slow in the middle section and it's difficult to engage with the characters.
What's it all about?
Directed by Lola Doillon, In Your Hands (or Contre Toi, original title fans) stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Anna Cooper, who we first meet as she stumbles, disoriented and distressed, out of a suburban house. When she returns home and listens to her messages, it transpires that she's a surgeon and that she has been missing for several days, having been kidnapped just before she was meant to go on holiday.
When Anna reports her kidnapping to the police, her story unfolds in flashback: she was kidnapped and held against her will in an empty room by Yann (Pio Marmai), the distraught husband of a former patient. Throughout the ordeal, Anna and Yann gradually develop feelings for each other, but is it a result of Stockholm Syndrome or something more complex?
It's getting to be rather embarrassing that the French keep giving Kristin Scott Thomas these great roles in challenging or otherwise interesting dramas and the best we can offer her is essentially upper-class caricature work (cf. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen). At any rate, while In Your Hands isn't quite on the same level as Leaving, I've Loved You So Long or even The Woman In The Fifth, Scott Thomas is once again on terrific form as Anna and her emotionally brittle screen persona is pushed to intriguing extremes as she develops complex feelings for her handsome abductor.
Doillon keeps the film tightly focussed on Anna, which creates a suitably claustrophobic and intense atmosphere throughout. The film is also strangely unsettling when Anna tries to return to normality (as if something is missing or not quite right), which is very effective.
The main problem with the film is that, for the most part, Anna remains emotionally distant, with the result that you spend half of the film trying to get inside her head before giving up in despair; her actions, post-flashback, are confusing and contradictory and while that's kind of the point, it's also ultimately frustrating on an emotional level. On top of that, the middle section of the film drags considerably and begins to feel repetitive.
In Your Hands is an occasionally frustrating experience but it's also refreshingly challenging and superbly acted and is ultimately worth seeing on that basis.