Dir. Alain Corneau. Fr.2004. 114mins.

Alain Corneau's WordsIn Blue, the veteran film-maker's first romance, promises much in its firsthalf, overcoming the initial obstacles of weak motivation to develop anintimate, sensitive relationship drama between a young girl who refuses tospeak and her single, emotionally stunted mum.

But then the theme switchesfrom lack of communication to a love story and gradually degenerates into asentimental melodrama that is eventually beyond salvation. Sylvie Testud andSergi Lopez deliver adequate performances which could have been much better,had the script sustained them more.

The picture may do passablywell on home turf because of its cast presence but will encounter little, ifany enthusiasm, once it crosses the borders into non-Francophone territories.

Corneau's script followsClara (Sylvie Testud), a young woman who has been scarred by the death of hergrandfather at the hands of the Nazis and whose daughter Anna (CamilleGauthier), locks herself in a self-imposed silence. Anna - whose fatherabandoned her and her mother at news of the pregnancy - is close to herover-protective mother and expresses herself by drawing houses with human facesthan through words, which are defined early on as both deadly dangerous andtreacherous.

When Anna fails to adapt tonormal school life she is reluctantly enrolled in a centre for the deaf, whereshe strikes a rapport with sympathetic tutor Vincent (Sergi Lopez). Clara, whohas no real relationships with people around her and whose existence is filledby her daughter, is initially uneasy fearful she will lose her daughter.

All well and good - but thescript establishes all this effectively enough in the first half of thepicture. After that Corneau switches to the easiest solution for the secondhalf, namely filling it up with an old-fashioned boy-meets/splits-up-with/isreconciled-with-girl formula between Vincent and Clara.

It would not be so bad wereit not so predictable, complete with the background extrapolation and the mushyfinale on the beach, all drowned out in gushy, sentimental music. For shame,for all the elements that could have made it a much better film, are here:Corneau is an experienced filmmaker, Sylvie Testud is a gifted performer,handling with equal ease both comedy and drama and Sergi Lopez is an immenselylikeable actor whatever he does on screen. Even youngster Camille Gauthier hasone of the more expressive pair of eyes recently observed on screen.

Using both film and HD,cinematographer Yves Angelo envelops the screen in a warm, homely feeling,creating an air of familiar amicability during the early stages. But once thescript starts pulling strings to explain itself, when no explanation is reallynecessary and tie up loose ends that are better left untied, then the entirepackage comes apart.

Prod cos: ARP, France 3 Cinema
Int'l sales:
Fr dist:
Michele Petin, LaurentPetin
Alain Corneau
Yves Angelo
Thierry Derocles
Prod des:
Solange Zeitoun
Main cast:
Sylvie Testud, SergiLopez, Camille Gauthier, Mar Sodupe, Cedric Chevalme, Esther Gorintin