In Your Hands [Contre Toi]


In Your Hands [Contre Toi] Review

Subtle and involving, this dark drama maintains a fierce sense of perspective that never allows any side-plots to distract us. For us and for the central character, the situation is all-consuming, haunting and deeply perplexing.

After her last day at work before going on holiday, maternity doctor Anna (Scott Thomas) returns home to find a man waiting for her. Yann (Marmai) kidnaps her and locks her in a barren room, giving her enough information to figure out why he has her. But she has no idea what he's going to do next. And it seems like he doesn't either, especially as his cruelty shifts into compassion. So when one day she finds the door unlocked, she's not sure if she should report him to the police.

The film opens with Anna's harrowing return home, then fills in the story as she tells it. But the events are so complex that we can understand why she's not sure how to react. Yann is a good-looking young man who's emotionally devastated by the original events that brought them together; he's not a bad man, and yet he has done something terrible. But is her affection for him misplaced? She's not sure, and neither are we.

Filmmaker Doillon plays on this dilemma beautifully, never over-egging the events to let us know how we should respond. She keeps the camera tightly within Anna's point of view, letting us see the conflicting moments that make it difficult to make a definitive response. It's obvious why she would be attracted to this vulnerable, sensitive man though he's her abductor. But can they have a happy ending together?

Scott Thomas and Marmai both deliver transparently brittle performances that make it difficult for us to judge them. Meanwhile, the deliberately evasive filmmaking and acting play to our sympathies, so while if we're shocked by the violence, we understand where it comes from. Acting out of desperation is only human, right? In other words, the cast and crew draw us right into the heart of the situation, then have the nerve to let us sort out how we might respond.

Which is a maddening but refreshing way to tell a story. Especially in preachy times.

Facts and Figures

Reviews 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Lola Doillon

Producer: Saga Blanchard

Starring: as Anna, as Yann, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey as Policier déposition, Marie-Sohna Condé as Caroline, Marie-Christine Orry as la concierge, Vinciane Millereau as Milène, Sophie Fougère as policier accueil, Jean-Louis Tribes as Michel, Laurent Cyr as policier, Noëlle Boisson as actrice, Olivier Galliano as acteur