The Adopted is the feature film directorial debut from the impossibly beautiful Mélanie Laurent. The film which is also co-written by and starring Laurent, as well as Marie Denarnaud, Clémentine Célarié and fellow Inglorious Basterds actor Denis Menochet, is being released on DVD from the 2nd of April 2012 courtesy of the good people at Studio Canal.
Mélanie Laurent is using her Inglorious Basterds fame to good effect. She has so far resisted the temptation to simply fall into the familiar pattern of rom-coms or franchise driven action movies that so many lesser known stars who have been catapulted into the subconscious with such an iconic role take. Quentin Tarantino saw something in Laurent that lead him to cast her as his heroine in Basterds. Since then she has made the excellent Beginners with Ewan McGregor and Oscar winner Christopher Plummer, directed by Mike Mills, and French WWII drama The Round Up.
Often you find that actors/actresses can use their new found gravitas to pursue more personal projects. This is often when they will try their hand at directing or writing a film. The studios often have no issue with this and funding can be obtained with relative ease sometimes, based solely on the fact that the movie can be sold on the actor/actress starring in the film, and they more often than not bring some of their also well known friends on board for cheap. Some are good and some are not so good. So which one is The Adopted?
The film centres around sisters Lisa (Mélanie Laurent) and Marine (Marie Denarnaud) who was adopted by Lisa’s mother Millie (Clémentine Célarié) after her parents died when she was ten. The two were already best friends and this bond strengthened when they became sisters. The three are a happy family and all help raise Lisa’s son Leo together. Their happy collective existence is changed when Marine meets and falls in love with restaurant critic Alex (Denis Menochet). Lisa sees this budding relationship as a threat to the life she is happy and content with, and this forces a wedge between the two, but worse is still to come.
The Adopted is one of those films where the less you know going in the more you will get out of the film. It’s starts as a kooky kind of romance story about two people who fall in love, and how this starts to consume their lives. It’s the sort of off kilter indie mentality that’s been seen a lot when dealing with early stages of love, and it’s done brilliantly here. The chemistry between Denarnaud’s Marine and Menochet’s Alex is clear to see. It’s when the film takes a darker turn that the film really starts to resonate and show its true excellence.
Mélanie Laurent instantly imprints a style on the film that exudes a confidence that is so often lacking from first time filmmakers. This is not just a mashing together of different styles from different directors the actress has worked with. This is something natural, this is a keen directorial eye at work. The film is only 95 minutes long but manages to feel much longer whilst never losing your interest, the camera never feels lost and each scene has purpose and meaning, characters are well developed without having to be explained with pointless exposition. This is a truly great directorial debut.
When it comes to performances Marie Denarnaud owns the first part of the film. She is instantly likeable and it’s easy to take her side against the, at first, unlikable Mélanie Laurent’s Lisa. But the second half of the film is where Laurent lets herself shine. Once you get to know her character better, it becomes more apparent why she acts the way she acts. The star of the show is Denis Menochet who continues to impress with every film I see him in. His commanding presence here is counter balanced by his more emotive moments and he is fast becoming one of those actors where I’d watch any film he’s attached to, because he’s simply that good!
I was bowled over by The Adopted, it’s possibly the best film I’ve seen this year. Its shifts in tone are so seamless and its ability to draw you in and ensure you’re invested is so rare in modern filmmaking. I’d recommend this film to anyone, and I hope that we get more like this from Mélanie Laurent in the future. This is one of those films you should see as soon as you can, because it’s fantastic.
The Adopted is available on DVD from 2nd of April 2012 from Studio Canal RRP: £17.99 Best price found £10.99 (Blu-ray) www.play.com
Anyway peace out suckers!