When a sudden tragedy uproots the lives of two women and their families, they begin to question the relationships they once held so dear, in this psychological thriller from Olivier Masset-Depasse (Illégal).
Duelles (Mothers' Instinct)
Love thy neighbour as thyself. Belgian director Olivier Masset-Depasse challenges this commandment in his third feature, Duelles, a Hitchcockian thriller that will put you on the edge of your seat - and keep you reaching frequently for your martini glass.
Alice (Veerle Baetens) and Céline (Anne Coesens) share a special bond. Each living on one side of a stately suburban semi-detached home, their two families almost live like one. Their sons, Maxime and Theo, are more like brothers than friends. Alice and Céline share carpool duties and the families celebrate all special occasions together. But when tragedy strikes, relationships are tested and a crippling sense of paranoia changes the previously quotidian interactions between the women into a psychological duel of biblical proportions.
Placed in a Mad Men-like 1960s milieu, where impeccably manicured housewives wear pencil skirts and sip cocktails, Duelles features exquisite production design and a luscious, ultra-saturated colour palette. The bourgeois setting is perfect for the film's cautionary tale about women's intuition and maternal obsession.
Masset-Depasse's confident direction and razor-sharp script keeps us guessing at every turn. As Alice and Céline begin to question each other's actions and motives, palpable tension begins to poison their formerly blissful existence. Though Masset-Depasse never questions a mother's instinct to protect her child, he does ask how far is one willing to go to protect someone else's. We're left to wonder how much we should trust our closest neighbours and, even more, how much we can trust ourselves.