Screening on 01/02/19

France 2017
Dir: Xavier Legrand
Starring: Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria
Cert 15
94 mins

Although “Custody” has affinities with the gritty social realism of the Dardenne brothers (“The Unknown Girl” etc), it also works effectively as a suspense thriller. Starting with a custody hearing, regarding the younger child (12-year-old Julien) of recently divorced couple Miriam and Antoine, the tone is unsentimental and matter-of-fact. Miriam has accused her former husband of violent behaviour towards her and her children and presses for sole custody of Julien. The judge, however, grants joint custody. Julien, for his part, has already made it clear that he wants no further contact with his father and is obviously ill at ease in his presence. From this point on Antoine looms menacingly over the family, as they attempt to start a new life. The sense of dread is skilfully built up and culminates in a truly nerve-shattering climax.

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