The Midwife (PG)
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Even though it’s written and directed by a man, Martin Provost, The Midwife is a film about women, seen through the eyes of women.
Initially it focuses on midwife Claire (Catherine Frot) whose ordered existence is turned upside down by the sudden appearance after 30 years of her father’s former mistress Béatrice (Catherine Deneuve), seeking to re-establish contact with her old life as her time on Earth may be coming to its conclusion.
The septuagenarian Deneuve still has beauty and screen charisma to burn, making her a good contrast to the repressed personality that Frot portrays. Her Claire is the kind of dedicated midwife that every mother would love to have at her birth, and Frot undertook midwifery training classes so she could actually assist at live births in the film, giving it a wonderful authenticity.
As a professional midwife she is warm, sympathetic and stands up against technology which aims to take away the personal aspect of midwifery. She gives all to her job and away from the delivery room she appears stitched up and cold.
However, as the film progresses and the free-spirited and outrageous Béatrice pushes her way into Claire’s ordered life, both women change and come to care for each other. This change in Claire opens up the possibility of romance with a fellow community gardener Paul (Olivier Gourmet), allowing her innate warmth to influence her life away from work. By the film’s conclusion Claire and Béatrice have enriched each other’s lives beyond measure.
While it is a work of fiction, Provost wrote it to thank midwife Yvonne André who saved his life as a baby, and the film is dedicated to her.