A homeless mother drops her kid off with a reclusive ex-con in the forest of “Versailles,” scripter Pierre Schoeller’s largely half-baked feature debut as helmer. Very Gallic in the way down-and-outers double as philosophers, pic requires a heavy suspension of belief and never really builds to anything memorable, though perfs are strong and lensing is finely textured. French screens should see decent biz, but offshore auds are likely to give “Versailles” a “let them eat cake” shrug of indifference.
Tired of the social services system she can’t negotiate, homeless Nina (Judith Chemla) is a loving but inadequate mother to 5-year-old Enzo (Max Baissette de Malglaive, impressive). Chancing upon Damien (Guillaume Depardieu) in his shack in the Versailles woods, she does a runner after one night, leaving Enzo so she can put her life in order. Though largely controlled by his id, Damien grows close to the boy; as winter comes he returns to his estranged father (Patrick Descamps) to give Enzo a home. Long nighttime takes and plays of focus characterize skilled lensing, through close-ups of Enzo’s brown eyes milk silent exclamations of “adorable!,” and piano music unnecessarily underlines poignancy.