Tolerance and open-mindedness trump prejudice and religious fundamentalism when a Muslim mother and daughter start working for a wheelchair-bound Jewish widow in French helmer Philippe Faucon’s “Two Ladies.” The simple, southern France-set tale also compares secular and devout lifestyles, and explores the often-fraught bond between aging parents and adult children. Playing like an after-school special about diversity and social cohesion, it combines naturalistic observation with a somewhat forced didacticism. The female p.o.v. and Jewish angle might open additional fest doors, but pic’s best suited for Euro broadcast.
Nurse Selima (Sabrina Ben Abdallah) takes a job caring for Esther (Ariane Jacquot), who lives with her physician son. She’s a difficult, hot-tempered patient given to lambasting her employees. When Esther’s latest home help quits, Selima recruits her mother Halima (Zohra Mouffok) to clean and cook kosher. The two older women, both Algerian emigres, have more in common than they imagined. Subplots deal with relatives disparaging Selima’s secular, independent ways and criticizing Halima’s means of funding her pilgrimage to Mecca. Like the script, perfs by Jacquot and Mouffok lack subtlety. Tech credits are bright and sized for the small screen.