Jalouse (Jealous)

Nathalie (Karin Viard) has a good life and a beautiful and talented daughter, Mathilde (Dara Tombroff). But, something changed in the divorced mom and she turns on her child, her friends and colleagues because she is consumed with being “Jealous.”

Laura's Review: B

As fiftyish, divorced literature professor Nathalie Pécheux (Karin Viard, "Time Out," "Polisse") watches her beautiful daughter Mathilde (Dara Tombroff) prepare for her audition for the Paris Opera Ballet, she has a most unmaternal reaction - she is "Jealous." If you watch the trailer for "Jalouse," you might think you are in store for one of those broad French comedies, but, while frequently funny, writer/director/brothers David and Stéphane Foenkinos ("Delicacy") have instead crafted a most unusual character study, that of a woman lashing out against everyone around her as she faces aging and mortality. That the filmmakers point towards menopause as the cause of some truly awful behavior is disturbing, but Karin Viard's powerhouse of a performance goes a long way towards easing that sting. Call it an extreme case. The first hint of trouble occurs at the surprise eighteenth birthday party Nathalie throws for Mathilde. As she washes dishes in the kitchen with best friend Sophie (Anne Dorval, "Mommy"), Nathalie makes a slightly catty comment about her own daughter. Sophie's eyebrows raise and Nathalie brushes the comment off, distracted by the news that her ex Jean-Pierre (Thibault de Montalembert) who she criticizes for having brought his new wife Isabelle (Marie-Julie Baup, "Micmacs"), is taking her to the Maldives. At school the next day, she chastises a student asking for directions to a classroom for being late, just before tardily entering her own classroom. In the teacher's lounge, her lateness is questioned by the principal (Éric Frey) (out of concern) before he introduces her to new young teacher Mélanie Pick (Anaïs Demoustier, "The New Girlfriend"), the 'student' Nathalie had derided. When Sophie and her husband Thierry (Xavier de Guillebon, "Allied") introduce her to his new work colleague Sébastien Corti (Bruno Todeschini, "Va Savoir"), Nathalie flirts, but bristles at the implication she does not know Coltrane (she does not, but learns to, benefiting the film's soundtrack). He persists, only to be rewarded with false accusations of ogling her daughter. Things escalate to extraordinary levels when Nathalie dynamites her friendship with Sophie and sabotages both her ex-husband's vacation and her daughter's audition. The Foenkinos find a moving solution for Nathalie's self-inflicted crisis, a much older woman, Monique Mougins (Thérèse Roussel, "Micmacs"), whom she meets at her local swimming pool. Monique's acceptance and friendship inspires Nathalie to consider an alternative perspective on life. Viard is extraordinary in this role, perfectly aware of her own self destructive spiral, yet powerless to stop it. The actress communicates superiority followed by self realization with fleeting facial expressions. That she creates such an unsympathetic character without losing ours, even making us laugh or recognize our own struggles with impulse control on occasion, is indication of talent of the highest order (Viard is hugely popular in France, although not as well known as other actresses of her caliber in the U.S.). Support is strong across the board, Dorval superb expressing critical concern, the very definition of true friendship while Baup offers honest kindness. De Guillebon constructs Thierry as frustrated, even angry, yet always understanding. Grade:

Robin's Review: B

This mid-life crisis story is a first-rate character study of its heroine, Nathalie, as her together life starts to unravel. There is her sudden, uncontrolled jealousy toward Mathilde, who mom sees as, now, not intellectual and “just a dancer.” She also begins to crack at the school where she teaches when a new, very pretty and smart young professor, Melanie (Anais Demoustler), threatens her dominance in her department. Natalie, we soon find out, is having relationship issues, too, and is working hard to push away her best friend, Sophie (Anne Dorval). Karin Viard is near-brilliant as the middle-aged mom who is showing all of the signs of menopause but is too self-possessed to understand her body’s processes, never mind accepting them. No one wants to think of themselves as getting old and Viard captures the fears and denials entirely. But, there is, as you might guess, a glimmer of hope and, in a way, rebirth. Viard is the glue that holds the film together.