wed 18/09/2019

In Your Hands | reviews, news & interviews

In Your Hands

In Your Hands

Kristin Scott Thomas is stronger than the script about Parisian fear and loathing

Down and out: Kristin Scott Thomas is very low indeed in a Paris lock-up

You might wonder whether Kristin Scott Thomas is doing Paris arrondissement by arrondissement. Last time we saw her was in Pawel Pawlikowski’s The Woman in the Fifth, where she was reincarnated in that district. In Lola Doillon’s In Your Hands (Contre toi in the original), she’s moved to the Eighth to undergo a bit of living hell.

Or at least that’s where her character Anna Cooper begins, as a soon-to-be middle-aged surgeon, a professional, living alone, and very likely a bit lonely. Her mother at the end of the telephone, and conversations with hospital colleagues, seem the closest she gets to personal contact. Scott Thomas plays fluently in French, though there’s a hint of strangeness, never really explored, in her name: we feel she’s from somewhere else, but never really know why or how she ended up in Paris, depicted here in off-beat, low colours in street scenes.

Scott Thomas plays fluently in French, though we feel she’s from somewhere else

That is, when we see any exteriors at all, because In Your Hands is as interior a film as they come. Anna ends up being kidnapped by the widower of a woman who had died when she was performing a caesarean. Yann (Pio Marmai) is borderline psychotic (though he hasn’t let his looks go), is out of touch with his child, and intent on taking revenge by keeping the person he holds responsible for his fate in captivity. Anna, on the other hand, has little or no recollection of what had happened, and no idea initially who he is.

Which brings them into very close contact indeed, where he locks her up in an apartment room (seemingly well prepared), and humiliates her by acting as a rough warder. L'enfer, c'est les autres. Except then Stockholm syndrome kicks in, through which captor and captive develop a mysterious bond of closeness that remains with Anna even after her escape (or release, as it may have been). That leads to her only other human encounter in the film, with a sympathetic police officer, that almost brings us into police procedural territory, but doesn’t.

Scott Thomas plays distraught to distraction, trapped and barely able to move, and one just wishes she had more substantial material to be working with. Marmaï sticks to smouldering pain. Then when they finally, perhaps rather predictably, get together (pictured above right), they both play smouldering distraught. Two anguished figures whom life has brought together in a rather unexpected way. “Too bad this started like it did” – truer words were never uttered about romance, achieved or unachieved. There are perhaps some hints that we are in the emotional territory of Michael Haneke, although the material is not so considered. Though only just over 80 minutes, In Your Hands feels a lot longer.

Watch the trailer to In Your Hands


 

Scott Thomas plays distraught to distraction, and one just wishes she had more substantial material to be working with

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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