(TORONTO, ON) – Grand Dame, Angry Daughter, and Slime Bucket. Catherine Deneuve always delights as a shining beacon of class in French cinema. In this case, she is right on the mark playing Grand Dame Casino Palais majority shareholder, Renée Le Roux, in the south of France.
The casino, however, is faltering financially as it not a money laundering operation, like its competitors on the Mediterranean coast. Renée is not only having financial problems but faces an angry, confused, and easily manipulated daughter, Agnès.
Agnès wants her casino shares sold so she has financing to operate her quirky little bookstore. She is so eager to get the shares she files a writ against Renée. However, Renée holds tight, not wanting her majority family shareholding lost due to her daughter.
Renée is both determined and, in essence, greedy.
Maurice (Guillame Canet) is a lawyer offering occasional services to the casino. He’s a handsome rake with the libido the size of the Eifel Tower. Yes, Agnès bares all and is involved in a torrid affair with Maurice.
Maurice brokers a deal with Mafia casino owner Fratoni who buys Agnès out for three million Euros. He also has her vote against her mother who is implementing an austerity plan to save the Palais.
Renée is defeated, Fratoni seizes control of the Palais, and puts it into liquidation.
Agnès and Maurice split the proceeds and each of their half goes into a safety deposit box in a Swiss Bank. Conveniently, Agnès gives the power of attorney to Maurice.
The viewer is hit suddenly with Maurice cleaning out Agnès’ cash from her safety deposit box. Then both he and Agnès disappear. Some 30 years later he returns to France to face trial. The screenplay falters badly at this point, with an inexplicable gap that left me disappointed.
After three different trials, is sentenced for the murder of Agnès, due in part to the tireless work of Renée.
Casting Deneuve was perfect. Adèle Haenel as Agnès conveys fragility and naiveté perfectly. But Maurice is a clean cut rake who may be manipulative and a crook, but he does not strike one as a murderer; just a slime bucket.
There is just not enough evil and brutality in his character to convince me he is a murderer.
The movie was humming along nicely, gathering momentum, but seemed to lurch to a stop and limped to the finish.
(L’Homme Qu’on Aimant Trop (In the Name of My Daughter), France, 2014, Director André Téchiné, 116 minutes, 11 April 2015, Part of 2015 Cinéfranco Film Festival, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)