Review by Joseph Fayed
Thrillers that involve deception through their main character don't often have that character be multi-layered enough to understand the depravity of their actions. Madeline Collins has Virginie Efira in a predicament, where she proves she is good at being bad. This Hitchcock style thriller directed by Antonie Barraud effectively lets you piece the puzzle together, while slowly taking you through the motions of a lie being uncovered.
Judith has two picture perfect lives. In one, she lives in Switzerland with Abdel, where they raise their young daughter. In the second, she lives in France with Melvil and two older sons. Her weekly routine of going back and forth between these two lives begins to unravel, and soon she realizes that to preserve one of these lives, she must sacrifice everything she has come to love.
The biggest distinction this film has is how the character of Judith is almost identical in her two lives. She shares similar traits in each lifestyle, despite living a facade. The truth of Judith is acknowledging that she is living a lie, but this also paints the picture that certain people around her are active participants in her far-fetched life. Judith is inherently messy this way because she fears losing half of what she has, but neglects to think of her other family. She is narcissistic, and the more she talks, the more Judith exposes her true self. I thought the decision to have her gradual breakdown caused by her longstanding actions was well done. It really rings true to how actual narcissists are uncovered.
Virginie Efira is a force to be reckoned with. She carries the film with her performance, and while playing a narcissist from a clinical perspective must be daunting, she acts brilliantly when she's expected to maintain composure and when she's not. Efira bases her character around the sense of liberation from either of her lives. She acts nearly the same when she's with both families, but she is grounded in not accepting the boundaries of the men she's with. From one scene to the next, Judith is living quite a comfortable life, but she only feels free when she travels from one life to the next. Her painless re-entry into her other life is well acted throughout the film by Efira too.
Madeline Collins simply put is a story of how you can only hide your morals for so long until they catch up to you. With a brilliant performance at its center, you'll be enthralled by the double life of Judith and taken aback by her every move. I suppose we have a French Amy Dunne equivalent now.
Madeleine Collins is now playing in theaters.