THE MID­WIFE

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This low-key, char­ac­ter-driven drama is be­ing billed as a face-off be­tween two leg­endary French ac­tresses. Cather­ine Deneuve is a le­git­i­mate claimant to that sta­tus here. Cather­ine Frot re­quires a lit­tle more in­tro­duc­tion. She’s prob­a­bly best known for her César-win­ning role in Mar­guerite (2015). Claire (Frot), a ma­ter­nity clinic mid­wife, is re­united with her fa­ther’s for­mer mis­tress Béa­trice (Deneuve), who left 35 years ago with­out warn­ing or ex­pla­na­tion. Béa­trice is ev­ery­thing Claire is not. In her mid-seven­ties, she’s still a glamorous femme fa­tale. But she has an in­cur­able brain tu­mor, and no one else to turn to for help. Claire still holds a queen­sized grudge, but she’s too much the do-gooder to turn her back. There are so­cial is­sues bound up in writer-direc­tor Martin Provost’s movie, but it’s pri­mar­ily a tale of two women, and the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween these two great pros over­comes a lit­tle soft­ness of story and makes this a plea­sure to watch. Not rated. 117 min­utes. In French with sub­ti­tles. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

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