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La tourneuse de pages
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 5,897 votes
Release: 30 November 2006 (Netherlands) /

La tourneuse de pages

Genre: Drama, Music, Musical, Thriller
Director: Denis Dercourt,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: The girl Mélanie Prouvost is the beloved daughter of the butchers Mrs. Prouvost and Mr. Prouvost. She is an aspirant pianist and her parents make her application to the Conservatory. During the entrance exam, she begins with a great performance but she is distracted by one member of the admittance board, Ariane, and she fails. Years later, Mélanie is a teenager that has just finished high-school and she is accepted as intern of the law firm owned by the prominent lawyer Mr. Fouchécourt. Mélanie overhears that he needs someone to take care of his son Tristan and she offers to the position. She needs to travel to another town and when she arrives at the manor, she is welcomed by Ariane, who is the wife of Mr. Fouchécourt. She does not recognize Mélanie and soon she becomes Ariane's page turner, in the beginning of her carefully planned revenge against the woman that destroyed her dreams. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Critic Reviews

Director Denis Dercourt is also an accomplished classical musician. His previous film with a musical background, the 2002 My Children Are Different, was the austere study of a parent who was brutally demanding of his musical children to the point of revolt. Clearly Dercourt is interested in how musicians may suffer – the demanding hours of practice, the merciless competition, the terrifying concert night with its inevitable accompaniment of 'le trac' (stagefright) – and how the musician's suffering may engender suffering in others. In The Page Turner there's someone whose whole life has seemed ruined by musical frustration, and there's also someone with a horrible case of 'le trac.' Dercourt successfully combines the tension of vicariously experienced performance anxiety with the suspense of awaiting an act of revenge to be unleashed. In this film, all is bright and clear on the surface, but a mere walk down a corridor to an indoor pool can be heavy with foreboding.

This is a somber and elegant film less rich in detail than My Children Are Different but more intensely focused. While My Children was a coming-of-age story with a dark look into familial musical ambitions and their toll on children, this is a flat-out psychological revenge thriller, but completely set in a musical world. In The Page Turner Mélanie, a young butcher's daughter with serious musical ambitions, fails an audition because of the behavior of one of the judges, an egocentric pianist, Ariane (Catherine Frot) and from then on gives up her piano ambitions forever. Years later Mélanie (Déborah François, of the Dardennes' L'Infant) temporarily clerks for a wealthy lawyer, Monsieur Fouchecourt (Pascal Greggory), and also volunteers to care for his son Tristan (Antoine Martynchiow) during her vacation. Reporting to the château where Fouchecourt lives, she finds that her boss's wife is none other than Ariane. She immediately sets out to gain the unsuspecting Ariane's confidence – easy, since Ariane has recently lost all her confidence due to a serious car accident and needs all the extra support she can get. Before you can say "cadenza," Mélanie has become indispensable as Ariane's page turner for important concerts. Mélanie also wins Tristan's affection and becomes important to Ariane in more subtle ways. The only person she doesn't seduce is the cool, aloof Greggory. Eventually in the isolation of the château almost all the attention is on Adriane and Mélanie, but there are a few other small but important details. A cellist gets flirty with Mélanie and she punishes him severely. Tristan likes to practice holding his breath under water and when Mélanie challenges him in that and urges him to play a Bach piece faster than is good for his hands – all these things take on an ominous feel. We know there is going to be a breaking point when Mélanie will bring down Ariane's world, but we don't' know how or where the destruction's coming: Dercourt is continually bringing the tension to a tighter pitch by keeping us guessing.

Frot gives a fascinating performance and François too is effectively used, so still and tightly wound she seems able to inspire confidence or destroy it with a blink of her pretty eye. The action is less violent but the spirit of Chabrol hovers over this piece, which uses sweeping music and women fainting as in a Forties melodrama – and most successfully so. Frot, who has played ditsy women very successfully before, is beautiful and imposing here. A weakness of the film is that her character, while obviously wooden and egocentric in some ways – with her son, for instance – is a little too sympathetic for us to welcome her victimization. But the pleasure of Dercourt is in the discomfort he so elegantly arouses.

This is the cool side of the French personality. Dercourt's people seem curiously wooden most of the time – like Auteuil's character in Un coeur en hiver, they seem to live in a continual winter of the spirit – but within the world of austere elegance and musical dedication that he creates, somehow that woodenness becomes believable and even moving.

The Page Turner has received one musical and two acting César nominations: Jérôme Lemonnier for the composition, Catherine Frot for best actress, and Déborah Francois (of the Dardennes' The Child) for most promising young actress of 2006. Dercourt works in an area that he's intimately familiar with and knows how to create a mood. He also likes to use musically gifted youngsters in his films and the boy, Tristan, is one of those. Pascal Greggory plays Frot's husband with appropriately unctuous elegance. He's exactly the man she deserves.

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