The Page Turner



Now this is a difficult one. On the one hand, I want to adore this film, seeing as its one of my dad’s favourites. But on the other hand, it just wasn’t all that I’d hoped. Damn my soft heart. Three stars it is. 

 The film follows Melanie, a young girl turned woman who gives up her concert pianist dream after a bad audition. As you may have guessed, she becomes a page turner, or the page turner, for pianist Ariane, the wife of Melanie’s boss. Ariane cannot perform without Melanie – she puts her at ease, somehow allowing her to channel the the hours of practice into the best performance she can give. The plot takes a sharp turn with twenty minutes to spare when the ‘psychological thriller’ chunk of the film rears its head (the genre I was hoping it would deliver at least fairly soon after the opening credits). 
Now, I understand that these kind of films do need build up – the seemingly sudden changes in tone enhancing rather than diminishing the effect on the audience. But, I guess that wasn’t what bothered me so much. It was more the unlikeable, often near monotone characters that littered the script and lack of interesting dialogue. Sure, words do sound more interesting in French to my ignorant English ears but, even then, it felt like no imagination had gone into the conversations. Questions were given obvious, spell-it-out responses. Mundane doesn’t even cover it.

But, as I said, the last twenty-ish minutes saved this from complete failure. That’s when it really kicked in. The story picked up, the characters became five times as interesting as they were before. A plot twist arises but still, doesn’t quite hit with the maximum impact I’d hoped had enough time to build up.  Maybe I’m just splitting hairs and maybe the ordinariness of it all just didn’t sit well with me that day. For a filmic style I’m usually all up for, take Mike Leigh, for example, there just weren’t enough quirks of humanity to evoke any empathy. When our species is really explored, really observed, we can relate or we can be astounded by something new. This was somewhere in between: the awkward half-way point that usually translates to disinterest. 

A redeeming feature is its short run time. I can’t get upset about losing 85 minutes. But maybe that’s why I didn’t like this as much as I’d hoped. If it were longer and more developed, with an extended ending to redeem the slow start, maybe then I could spare more appreciation. But some things aren’t meant to be.


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