The Adopted (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byIsabel Stevens24/02/2012

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Actress Melanie Laurent’s directorial debut is a rather soppy French family saga which can’t quite decide whether it’s a melodramatic tragedy or a quirky indie.

What’s it all about?
Melanie Laurent’s meditation on love and loss explores the emotional fallout of a tragedy on a tight-knit female family unit. Thirty-something bookshop owner Marine plays the adopted part of the title, taken in by Lisa and her mother Millie when as a young orphan. The first act of the film shows Marine as she falls in love with food critic Alex but as a result, her relationship with singer-songwriter Lisa starts to suffer. Then when Marine is hit by a motorbike, the point of view switches to Lisa as she tries to cope with life, as her (now pregnant) sister and soulmate lies in a deep coma. The final part follows Alex as he attempts to reconcile himself to impending fatherhood without his partner.

The Good
As you might expect from an actor turned director, Laurent knows how to coax some good performances from her cast. Denis Menochet particularly impresses as Alex, his sad eyes and heavy face giving real insight into his distraught state of mind – something that the bland and over-emotional script rarely achieves.

The Bad
The Adopted is a rather unusual hybrid. It's a tragic melodrama that has all the hallmarks of a trying-too-hard-to-be-playful indie: freeze frames of characters posing glumly in playgrounds, slo-mo hospital sequences, along with a few too many close ups and cute kiddie scenes, even sliding into advert territory with its softly-lit scenes of characters blowing bubbles in the bath. Marine's fledgling romance with Alex is rather feebly and unimaginatively portrayed - indeed, with the couple first meeting in Marine's bookshop, it's clear that Laurent is trying to recreate that awkward Notting Hill-esque courtship. Yet as tragedy strikes and breezy flirtations are left behind, the film starts to wallow too much in angst and woe, especially with the lazy use of flashbacks, as Lisa, sat on Marine's hospital bed, reminisces about their childhood.

Worth Seeing?
With its three-way split between the three protagonists points of view, The Adopted muses on love, death and the frustrations and joys of family life, and aims for maximum empathy with each character’s situation, but by constantly switching between indulgently sentimental or quirky and cute scenes, there’s scant sign of any sense of raw or real grief.

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Content updated: 13/12/2017 05:23

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