Director Andre Techine's suspenseful real-life drama, In the Name of my Daughter, is a spooky mystery that highlights the unique nature of mothers and their daughters. Click through for my review of this gripping story.
There is an amazingly beautiful sequence in the film where Renee Le Roux (Catherine Deneuve) is being driven home, after losing control of her Palais de la Méditerranée casino, while a French version of "Stand By Me" is played and sung by Renee and her driver Mario (Mauro Conte). The drive they are on has an amazing view of the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera. In The Name of the my Daughter is a film that looks and feels amazing, even opulent but the tragic nature of what befalls Renee's daughter Agnes is horrific. The real life murder is still a cause of many conspiracies and speculation. The film dives into this unknown secrecy by showcasing the power, control and sensationalism of the French Riviera in the 70s & 80s.
The films synopsis:
Acclaimed director ANDRÉ TÉCHINÉ brings a gripping real-life thriller to the screen. 1976. When her marriage falls apart, Agnes Le Roux (ADÈLE HAENEL) moves back to the South of France from Africa to live with her mother, Renee (CATHERINE DENEUVE), owner of the Palais de La Mediterranee casino in Nice. There, Agnes falls in love with Maurice Agnelet (GUILLAUME CANET), a lawyer and Renee’s business advisor, who is ten years her senior. Maurice continues to have relationships with other women. Agnes is madly in love with him. As a shareholder in the Palais de la Mediterannee casino, Agnes decides to sell what should have been her inheritance to go it alone. A fixed card game threatens the casino’s financial stability. Someone is trying to intimidate her mother. Behind the scenes hangs the shadow of the mafia and Fratoni, the owner of a rival casino, who wants to take over the Palais de la Mediterannee. Agnelet, who has fallen from grace with Renee, introduces Agnes to Fratoni. Fratoni offers her 3 million francs to vote against her mother in the shareholder’s meeting. Agnes accepts the offer. Renee loses control of the casino. Agnes finds it hard to cope with her betrayal. Maurice also distances himself from her. In November 1977, after a failed suicide attempt, Agnes disappears. Her body is never found. Thirty years on, Maurice Agnelet remains the prime suspect in a murder case with no body and no proof of his guilt. Convinced of his involvement, Renee is prepared to fight to the bitter end to see him put behind bars…
The film does an amazing job showing us a sophisticated casino lifestyle that has scary boardroom battles that highlight the extreme wealth being fought over. It's sort of like a cleaner and softer version of Scorsese's Casino. Catherine Deneuve is just as captivating and visually stunning as De Niro was in Casino and her powerful feminist leadership style really is refreshing. Renee is a woman not to be messed with and certainly when she loses her daughter the fire to find the killer never is put out. The film revolves around the trio of Catherine's Renee, the stubborn youthful nature of Adele's performance of Agnes, and the enigma that is Guillaume's Maurice. Put in a great performance by Jean Corso as the witty but deadly gangster Fratoni and you have a real thriller of a film.
Guilleume Canet's ability to tackle this dynamic and mysterious character, Maurice, is just another showcase of how amazingly talented an actor Canet has become. The character of Maurice is easily the haunting figure that connects the two battling Le Roux women. He is not only a caring father but also a sultry adulterous villain who's ambition is certainly capable of becoming deadly. The film is worth seeing just to follow the Maurice arc.
Catherine is powerful amongst the real fears that surround her character and it's amazing to see such an icon still capable of being captivating and multi-layered. Renee Le Roux is not a woman to be messed with, but for her to battle the mafia showcases just how bold she really is. The battles between mother and daughter are amazingly understated and tinge with a much deeper tension that only women can truly understand. Why Agnes would ultimately betray her mother is an important part of this film and it revolves around the seductive power of Maurice.
The film's passion is fully embodied in the love affair between Agnes and Maurice. Her devotion to this spooky man is so naive and yet understandable. He is dynamic and so her innocent virtues are perfectly played on by Maurice's ambitious nature. Where she sees hearts of love he sees money and power. It's a unique dynamic that obviously ends in the darkest of manners. Overall the acting trio are the real power of this film.
Andre Techine has worked with Catherine Deneuve on 7 films that date back to the early 80s and he's obviously got a voice she loves to tackle. But Andre working with Canet I think is the key to the film, what a performance in a well-structured, paced and beautifully shot film. The movie has rich cinematography that highlights the opulence and the simple reflections of life in Nice. The music is also pivotal. Whether it's the dynamic "Stand by Me" moment or the sad notes that carry the later half of the film there is little doubt the sound design is a real treat. Overall this film dives into the sultry, suspenseful and seductive world of high stakes gambling and tells a jarring true life murder mystery the best way possible.
Find out more on the film, here.