France | Poland | Belgium 2017
Opening May 17, 2018
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Writing credits: Olivier Assayas, Roman Polanski
Principal actors: Emmanuelle Seigner, Eva Green, Vincent Perez, Jasée Dayan, Camille Chamoux
Delphine (Emannuelle Seigner) is exhausted after hours of sitting and signing her new book which just hit the market to an enthusiastic response from readers. Everyone lines up for a signature and an exchange of words. “Oh, I loved your book.” “It reminded me of my relationship with my own mother.” “My mother acted just the same way.” Delphine begs to retreat, go home, and worry about the next book. But then the last person in line is Elle (Eva Green), a beautiful woman whom Delphine cannot forget. Over the next few days Elle welcomes her to her birthday party (as the only guest), visits Delphine at home, takes over her computer to answer her on-line correspondence and, finally, moves in as housekeeper, cook, and secretary. Professionally, Elle is a ghost writer for other authors; how much influence does she have on Delphine, goading her to “get started on that new book and put in more of an autobiographical touch.” She even represents Delphine at a reading, where no one will notice the difference as they look very much alike. Or does she? Delphine slowly declines physically (breaks her leg), and mentally with a hard case of writer’s block, making her more and more dependent on Elle, especially since her long-time boyfriend is absent for weeks in the United States.
Director Roman Polanski based this French film on the book of the same title by Delphine de Vigan (who also has the same first name as the film character and who also wrote a book, prior to this one, about her own mother’s life and suicide). Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle stars, along with French actress Eva Green in this more-or-less two-person film, which is being sold as a psychological thriller. However, as a thriller, it is definitely low-key, no horror scenes to pop you from your seat. It is relatively slow and quiet as the identities of Delphine and Elle seem to merge and what is that all about? Who is using whom for her own intentions? Polanski said that he could identify with the problem and repercussions of writer’s block. Perhaps viewers will find the film’s plot to be similar to an upcoming film, Tully, in which, here too, a strange, young woman takes over the household (opens May 31). Also, friends of Eva Green will be interested to compare her role as Elle with the role of Emilie in the film Euphoria (opens May 24). (Becky T.)