In the Name of My Daughter (L'homme qu'on aimait trop)

A colorful whirligig which twirls only sporadically, In the Name of My Daughter presents as a thriller about the Riviera casino wars of the 1970s, yet is front-loaded with greed, mother/daughter push-pulls, masochism, and tumbles from power. Campy courtroom testimony reveals French investigations into affairs of the heart other cultures only dream of. Can such a film be anything other than exciting? Yes. Maybe too many chefs flattened the soufflé, which is based on a single real-life story about a suspiciously missing heiress — cut to sensationalistic French tabloids making book and a buck on the case.

Catherine Deneuve is Renée Le Roux, a tyrannical but enthusiastically hands-on boss of the Palais casino, coveted by the Mafia. Director André Téchiné, in his seventh collaboration with Deneuve, goes for emotional rather than graphic violence: The weapon of choice is the sharp serpent's tooth of a daughter, Agnès (Adèle Haenel). When Renée refuses her daughter's inheritance, pent-up resentments are flame-stoked by her business assistant Maurice (a charming male sociopath played by Guillaume Canet), suddenly vicious when not promoted. He keeps Agnès in thrall, and the couple orchestrate a coup against Renée. Yet Haenel's empathetic one-note rendering can't balance out Deneuve's various incarnations: a power icy platinum blonde decked out in bejeweled orange (another decade's new black); a dignified graying old woman looking for justice.

Credits

Director:

  • André Téchiné

Cast:

  • Catherine Deneuve
  • Guillaume Canet
  • Adèle Haenel
  • Jean Corso
  • Judith Chemla
  • Mauro Conte

Writers:

  • André Téchiné
  • Cédric Anger
  • Jean-Charles Le Roux

Producers:

  • Olivier Delbosc
  • Marc Missonnier

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