The Midwife

The midwife of the title is Claire (Catherine Frot), a skilled baby-catcher who lives a quiet, dignified life in the suburbs of Paris with a tidy apartment and an adult son. Her structured existence must of course be disrupted, so here comes Béatrice (Deneuve, doing her very best Real Housewives of the Seventh Arrondissement). The Eurotrash former mistress of Claire’s long-dead father, Béatrice, shows up, Royal Tenenbaum-like, to announce she has brain cancer and needs help, but also that she has no intention of giving up either red meat or gambling. (That Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve are like the Meryl Streeps of French cinema makes their opposition all the more enjoyable.) What follows is a smart, mordant portrait of aging and loss. That sounds sad, but it’s actually delightful to watch two veteran actresses take on these complicated roles. Not much happens—but under the surface, everything does, and Frot and Deneuve make it impossible to miss. by Megan Burbank
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Martin Provost
Catherine Deneuve, Olivier Gourmet, Catherine Frot