In Review

Between Two Worlds film review: Juliette Binoche gives a ‘career-best’ performance

Socio-realist drama about France’s gig economy

Juliette Binoche spent years trying to persuade the French investigative journalist Florence Aubenas to sell her the rights to her bestselling book Le Quai de Ouistreham. Aubenas finally acquiesced, said Charlotte O’Sullivan in the London Evening Standard, and the result is this moving film, in which Binoche stars as Marianne, a writer from Paris who takes a job as a cleaner in the town of Caen, in Normandy, in order to expose the grim realities of life for the low-paid. Along the way, she befriends a “stroppy single mum and ferry worker” (Hélène Lambert), who senses “something fishy” about the attractive new arrival in their midst. Binoche gives a “career-best, vanity-free performance”, and though the title may be “forgettable”, the film is “anything but”. 

It sounds like an “incendiary Ken Loach polemic”, but it’s more of an “undercover thriller”, said Kevin Maher in The Times. The film’s tension derives from Marianne’s need to keep her true identity a secret from her new “blue-collar buddies”, who, unlike her, cannot walk away from this life. It’s “dramatically satisfying”, and Binoche is typically good, but the decision “to use the real-life exploitation of lowest-level workers” as a backdrop for “personal catharsis” left me feeling a bit “icky”. 

A more valuable film might have been a documentary by Aubenas herself, “about what has and hasn’t been achieved for gig workers in France since her book came out”, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. Although “earnestly intentioned”, the film is ultimately “naive and supercilious”, and strangely uninterested in its purported subject: “the injustice of exploitative employment practices”.

Recommended

UK summer food and drink festivals
Bakers on a stall at the Abergavenny Food Festival
On the menu

UK summer food and drink festivals

KOL: a tour of Mexican cuisine past, present and future
KOL Mexican restaurant in London
In Review

KOL: a tour of Mexican cuisine past, present and future

27 of the best hotels to discover in 2022
Spa at The Retreat at Elcot Park
In Focus

27 of the best hotels to discover in 2022

Recipe: tomato and chipotle chilli soup
Tomato and chipotle chilli soup
On the menu

Recipe: tomato and chipotle chilli soup

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

What happened to Logan Mwangi?
Tributes left to Logan Mwangi
Today’s big question

What happened to Logan Mwangi?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

The Week Footer Banner