Review: Chanson douce (2019)

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Chanson Douce (2019)

Directed by: Lucie Borleteau | 100 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Karin Viard, Leïla Bekhti, Antoine Reinartz, Assya Da Silva, Noëlle Renaude, Rehab Mehal, Calypso Peretjatko, Benjamin Patissier, Max Patissier, Laure Giappiconi, Claire Dumas

Myriam and Paul form a model family in the heart of Paris with their daughter Mila and baby Adam. Paul is a musician, Myriam is a lawyer on maternity leave. When Myriam wants to resume her work after that leave, she realizes that this will not be possible without help. Enter babysitter Louise, a mature woman who immediately gains the trust of Myriam and Paul with her years of babysitting experience. But looks are deceiving. Sometimes.

In the French crime drama ‘Chanson douce’ we see how babysitter Louise is increasingly showing strange traits. Usually those traits are harmless, sometimes they are a bit more worrisome, occasionally it goes a bit too far. But they are not traits that indicate an explosive drama or an extreme crime. What you soon realize is that there is a psychological abyss between the good family and the troubled babysitter.

The problem with ‘Chanson douce’ is that too little happens to justify the curious ending. So that at the end we are not only left with an asjemenou feeling, but also that the run-up to this is horribly boring. For 70 minutes, virtually nothing happens. Of course there are Louise’s little quirks, but otherwise we don’t see much more than the weekdays of a weekday family. They eat, drink, the family goes to a party, they celebrate a holiday, Louise learns to swim and she gets in touch with a fellow babysitter.

Only after 70 minutes does the story start to move, after 75 minutes something really weird happens, after 80 minutes we understand that things cannot continue to go well. And we are already close to the end. The lack of plot and suspense is nowhere compensated for by cinematic beauty or sharp dialogue. Karin Viard acts strongly as Louise and Leila Bekhti is a pleasant appearance but that’s about it.

Those who want to see the influence of psychological isolation on family life would rather look at ‘L’adversaire’ (2002) or ‘À perdre la raison’ (2012). The award-winning book ‘Chanson douce’ cannot stand in the shadow of those predecessors. It is a film that is hardly captivating but at most raises some questions. Such as: what is snoozefest in French?

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