Life and work in an outer Parisian suburb by Richard Jones

A look at The Midwife (PG)

midwifeCatherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve rate as two of the best-known and most famous French actors of their generation.

Surprisingly they’d never appeared in the same movie together, until now.

Director Martin Provost has put paid to that casting glitch as both Catherines appear in starring roles in his Paris-based movie about the lives of two completely different individuals.

Frot is Claire, the midwife of the title, who’s trying to cope with the looming closure of her hands-on community clinic and the handover to a more impersonal new maternity hospital.

She’s in her late 40s, has an adult son and is an emotionally comforting clinic worker for the soon-to-be mothers in her care.

Catherine Deneuve is Beatrice, a former mistress of Claire’s deceased father who in his day was a French national swimming champion and an Olympian.

She returns to Paris to make amends with Claire. Unlike the younger woman Beatrice is a real free spirit who lives life to the full.

She eats sumptuously, drinks the finest wines and plays cards in sleazy upstairs gaming rooms alongside a table-full of desperate gamblers.

Handfuls of €100 notes fly all over the place. If she’s lucky enough to collect some winnings that forms Beatrice’s sole source of income for the week.

Sadly Beatrice is soon diagnosed with a brain tumour and after her operation eventually moves in with Claire in an outer Parisian suburb.

It hardly slows her down as far as eating and drinking go.

In stark contrast teetotaller Claire lives her life soberly with her sole outside-work outlet a carefully nurtured vegetable plot where she meets fellow gardener Paul (Olivier Gourmet), a lorry driver.

Paul arrives one night at Claire’s apartment and when she cycles off to work he and Beatrice settle down to listen to music on some old vinyl discs.

By now the older woman is quite ill and is a victim of regular dizzy spells.

She’s determined not to live a painful and lingering death so director Provost has her demise carefully thought through.

It was quite a surprise to this moviegoer to see the last few frames with Paul and Claire in their gardens and the river – the source of water for their plants – really close by.

But where was Beatrice? You’ll have to go to this movie or alternatively stream it on one of your devices to find out.



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