Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Tourneuse De Page, La
France 2005
Directed by
Denis Dercourt
85 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

The Page Turner

Synopsis: When young piano student Melanie Prouvost (Julie Richalet) sits her piano exam she is distracted when one of the examiners, renowned pianist, Ariane Fouchecourt, (Catherine Frot), signs an autograph for a fan. Melanie fails and determines to give up piano for ever. Years later, while working for a law firm, Melanie (now played by Deborah François) hears that a temporary live-in child-sitter job is available at her boss’s home. She moves in, and we discover the mother is none other than Ariane, who learning of Melanie’s musicality, employs the young woman as a page turner. 

This carefully-crafted, stylish film is a low-key affair but it packs quite a punch. As a story of revenge, delivered years after the perceived slight, it is chilling. As a psychological study it is taut and engaging, with full credit for this going to the director’s firm hand and the perfect performances by the lead women.

Melanie is the child of a butcher, and the opening shots of meat on a slab, interspersed by piano practice, set a mood of foreboding in train. When young Melanie fails her exam and slams the piano lid down upon another unsuspecting child we suspect what sort of personality we are dealing with. And when the older Melanie charmingly remarks upon the young boy’s pet chicken, then describes in detail how hens are slaughtered, we start to actually fear for people’s lives. But there are no such simple resolutions to this revenge. François, gives a wonderfully restrained yet fraught performance as the older Melanie, modulates from self-effacing through to flirtatious, is both charming and reserved yet but above all manipulative and as a predatory cellist finds out, coldly sadistic.

Catherine Frot is a stalwart of French cinema. When we first meet Ariane she is a self-assured almost arrogant woman, but years later, having lost her confidence in a car crash, she is insecure, prone to nervous attacks and a ready target for Melanie, who plays upon Ariane’s vulnerability with devastating calculation. Director Dercourt a professional musician and a viola player has an evident understanding of musicians. Frot translates this beautifully into her measured performance.

The relationship between the women, which hinges on the dependence a pianist has upon her page-turner, provides a gripping tension, not expected in such a simple scenario and we are struck by how cleverly this story has been constructed although it must be said that it does depend on a highly improbable set of contingencies to get it going. 




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst