Questioned by a teacher over her tendency to rewrite fairy-tales with unhappy endings, 12-year-old Alexandrine (Blancke) timidly admits that her father Jean (Bashung) has been sexually abusing her. Unsurprisingly, he denies the accusation, rightly confident that, like the sceptical legal authorities, his wife Marie (Perrier) will believe him rather than her daughter. Nevertheless, social worker Sophia (Balasko) feels sure the girl isn't lying or even the victim of an over-ripe imagination, and goes ahead with the investigation... Happily resorting neither to stale Hollywood-style homily, nor to the dour grainy 'realism' of most British social-problem movies, this fictional case-study blends a cool, almost scientifically objective approach to a notoriously difficult issue with a visual and narrative style that's distinctly poetic. Crucially, writer/director Issermann avoids sensationalism and sentimentality, allowing for a dramatic balance that's enhanced by the uniform excellence of the performances. Tough, intelligent, compelling and - remarkably - not at all grim.
Aline Issermann, Martine Fadier-Nisse, Frédérique Gruyer
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