It starts like a potboiler should, on an express train hurtling into the night, as a subtitle describes the blood disease porphyria, and Margot Fisher (Garcia) bears down on her young daughter Betty with a pair of scissors. Cut to a grown, successful and stable Betty (Kiberlain) carefully nurturing her own child Joseph. Ruth Rendell's novel The Tree of Hands sports enough characters, coincidences and cross-connections to stay the pace as a mazy thriller. Claude Miller, however, shifts the story to Paris, and broadens it to encompass not only working-class mother Carole (Seigner) and her more casually affectionate relationship with her son José (a ringer for Betty's Joseph), but the reverberations of Betty and Carole's romantic attachments past and present. This profusion of narrative eventually dilutes the film's sense of purpose, but mostly this is a lucid intriguing, confidently performed drama dotted with comedy and pathos, and informed by its collage of perspectives on modern motherhood.
Cast and crew
Consuela de Haviland