François Cluzet plays a country doctor facing a crisis, in Irreplaceable.
Starring: François Cluzet, Marianne Denicourt Director: Thomas Lilti Certificate: TBC Running time: 102 minutes Release date: 13 January
There is nobody better in France to write and direct a film about the life of a doctor than Thomas Lilti. As a former GP, the 40-year-old is aware of the pressures, emotions and frustrations of donning the white coat. This intimate knowledge of the profession shines through in Irreplaceable, a poignant and often amusing character study featuring another fine performance by François Cluzet.
The veteran actor stars as Jean-pierre Werner, a doctor who travels around the French countryside making house calls and going the extra mile to help his patients. When he is diagnosed with a serious disease, his own physician tells him to take things easy to cope with his upcoming treatment. Werner instead throws himself into his work, but is forced to face up to his illness when the hospital sends newly qualified doctor Nathalie (an impressive Denicourt) for him to train as a replacement. With a prickly Werner in no mood to hand over control, the two have somehow to find common ground to work together.
From the opening moments of Irreplaceable, it is clear that both director and lead star are masters of subtlety. When Werner is given the bad news about his illness, he copes by tuning out the words of his doctor and focusing on a small stain on the man’s coat. Here is someone clearly looking for a distraction from the harsh reality of his life. The scene sets the tone for a film that never overplays its hand and marks Lilti as a talent to watch.