Director: Erik Poppe Writer: Harald Rosenlow Cinematographer: John Christian Rosenlund
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, Maria Doyle, Larry Mullen, Lauren Canny
Juliette Binoche plays a war photographer whose relationship unravels when she escapes death in Afghanistan. Norwegian director Erik Poppe (Hawaii, Oslo) sets this absorbing story in a glorious seascape near Dublin and vibrant locations in the Middle East, cleverly casting Binoche in the lead role of a strong but feminine Rebecca. Clearly the main bread-winner, she’s married to Marcus (Danish actor, Coster-Waldnau) a teacher who looks after their two girls during her frequent trips to the war zones. Rebecca freely admits “I don’t do normal”, finding it hard to engage with the local mums in provincial life back in Dublin. But after returning home to nurse her physical and emotional wounds inflicted during a female suicide bomb blast in Kabul, she starts to reassess her life.
Erik Poppe’s work in the eighties as a war photographer makes this intense drama emotionally more resonant, and particularly because his protagonist is female – it’s fascinating how the tables are turned when a woman has the dangerous job. Vilified by her Marcus and her kids for ‘torturing’ them emotionally, Isabelle remains steadfast in her commitment to her chosen vocation despite constantly risking her life to bring worthy causes to the public domain: and there’s nothing more evocative than pictures in telling a moving story. There would be no question about a man working in a dangerous field, so why should a woman evoke a different response?. Binoche is so masterfully convincing here that we totally buy into her dilemma in a role that she handles without resorting to sentimentality; retaining her female qualities of compassion and affection. Her relationship with Marcus is less convincing from his point of view: Coster-Walnau switches a little too abruptly from coldness to acceptance and back to resentment in his portrayal of the aggrieved partner. But this is very much Binoche’s film; she radiates calm capability outshining the support cast, ably assisted by Lauren Canny who makes a promising debut as her daughter.
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