Freely inspired by real events that saw a casino queen pursue her daughter’s lover through the courts for murder, André Téchiné’s L’Homme Qu’on Aimait Trop has all the hallmarks of a film inspired by a fait divers. Rather than an astute portrait of a vicious male siren shipwrecking the women in his orbit, or an intimate look at a bruised mother and daughter relationship, Téchiné reports on all the personal dynamics and conflicts that lead Agnelet (a wolf in lamb’s clothing) inevitably to the dock. Despite an affectingly dewy-eyed performance from Adèle Haenel as heritess daughter Agnès, French Riviera really kicks up a notch when Deneuve hits skid row – bursting with forgiveness, unmourned grief and a mother’s wrath. With appeals, upturned verdicts and counter-appeals, the sting though is in the tail. And it’s perhaps the best courtroom thriller that never was.
French Riviera is showing on Oct 8th, 9th & 11th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival