The Page Turner
(La Tourneuse de pages)

THE PAGE TURNER is not an adaptation of the David Leavitt novella (that
was filmed as
FOOD FOR LOVE). Instead, this taut little film is a
psychological thriller about revenge. If the Japanese horror adaptation hadn't
already used the title
THE GRUDGE, that might have served as a more
appropriate title for this drama.  

The film opens with its protagonist Mélanie Prouvost (Julie Richalet), a
budding piano prodigy and the daughter of a butcher (Jacques Bonnaffé) and
his lumpen wife (Christine Citti). Mélanie breathes music and has aspirations
for a career as a classical pianist. She is about to audition for a prestigious
conservatory and she makes clear to her parents that if for some reason she
fails, she will not touch the instrument again. During her examination, a
determined autograph hound enters to obtain the signature of the jury head --
the well-known pianist Ariane Fouchécourt (Catherine Frot). The interruption
disrupts Mélanie's concentration and she fails. True to her word, the young girl
stops playing the piano.

Flash-forward ten years and twenty-something Mélanie (now played by
Déborah François) is arriving for work at an internship at a law firm that
happens to be owned by Jean Fouchécourt (Pascal Greggory), Ariane's
husband. Is this coincidence or part of a nefarious plan? Well, the beauty of
THE PAGE TURNER is that you -- the viewer -- get to make up your own
mind about the events. Clearly, Mélanie has an agenda, but what exactly it is
remains unspoken. Thanks to a turn of events, the Fouchécourts require an au
pair and guess who offers herself as the perfect candidate?

Director Denis Dercourt manages to create tension through superb use of
silence. In many ways, Mélanie is a superb improviser. Clearly, she couldn't
have planned every aspect of the revenge that is eked out in the movie, but
instead the character seizes opportunities that present themselves and
adjusts her plans accordingly. She is somewhat of a blank slate and Déborah
François manages to convey this superbly. Her angelic blonde looks play
against type.

Catherine Frot has the more difficult role as the fragile Ariane but she
manages to convey the roiling undercurrents in the persona of this talented if
insecure artist. In tandem with François, she works wonders -- they are like
highly tuned instruments playing a wonderful if dark duet.

THE PAGE TURNER is an excellent, well-acted psychological thriller. No
doubt, audiences will find much to discuss and debate after viewing it.

Rating:        B+
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Catherine Frot as Ariane Fouchécourt and Déborah François
as Mélanie Prouvost in
The Page Turner/La tourneuse de pages
Denis Dercourt, 2006; 85m
Photo Credit: Diaphana Films