It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to imagine my grandmother’s threat coming from the mouth of any one of Almodóvar’s fierce materfamilias, whose protectiveness is all but instinctual, their brashness an armor against a world inclined to disrespect and devalue them.
Would our attention even be drawn, much less held, by Anne were an actor of Binoche’s stature not inhabiting her? Of course not, and Binoche appears to know that. Perhaps this is why, as the film progresses, Binoche seems to actually be leveraging the magnetism of her celebrity to vouch for the character.
The crowning achievement of this drama is the game and invigorating performance of Regina Williams, from her flinty exasperation to her no-guff candor to her sly, self-protective sarcasm. Hers is a performance suffused with compassion yet devoid of cheap and easy sentiment.
The manic pace at which Desplechin sifts and slides through tones can be overwhelming, even alienating, but his insistence on wandering down paths most filmmakers would not dare explore, much less envision, provides a heart-searching pleasure for those willing to follow.
"I really identified with these cowboys on horses who were searching for something and making decisions about whether they wanted to be a part of society or not. At some point, I realized, maybe when I was a little bit older, how oppressively male this genre was."