Pupille is a clinical look at French adoption. It starts with a mother, Clara (Leila Muse) a young student, about to give birth, telling the hospital staff that she wants to give the baby up to be adopted. While nurses are hovering around mother and child (It’s a boy, named Théo until his adoptive family can choose a name), social worker Mathilde (Clothilde Mollet, my favorite among the cast) is charged with making sure that the transfer from the mother to social services are done properly, with respect, for the child and for the mother. The language and the gestures are precise. A marvelous company of players makes the dialogue snappy and alive, despite the clinical aspect of the film. Of course, it helps that each character has some little amusing traits. Take social worker Lydia (Olivia Cote), who is looking for a family for Théo, she likes to have babies, but wants to hide the pregnancies when she is meeting families. Karine (Sandrine Kiberlain) has plenty of candies at her desk and likes to chew gum. Karine’s friend, Jean (Gilles Lellouche) is a social worker who is going to lovingly care for Théo while they are waiting for adoption. Jean makes sure that the baby feels the love and security that is owed to every child. And then there is supervisor Irène, who will soon retire, movingly played by great French actress Miou-Miou (director Henry’s mother). Théo will be adopted by single mother Alice (Élodie Bouchez). It’s a most expressive performance from Bouchez, who let us know by every detailed gestures Alice’s fears, the joys, the deception and the hopes. Pupille paints a rosy picture of French adoptions. But it is still an impressive, heartfelt and moving film. As for Théo, he is actually played by 15 babies who play the star (as he is really the star of the film) from birth to three months old. He’s soooo cute.
Plays at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema from April 18 – 24
Pupille (In safe hands)
In French with English subtitles.