Kristin Scott Thomas continues her parallel career in French-language cinema with intense kidnap drama “In Your Hands,” helmer Lola Doillon’s sophomore feature. Essentially a two-hander, the film gives Scott Thomas the kind of provocative lead role that Anglophone fare simply isn’t offering a 50-year-old actress these days. Pairing the thesp with handsome young Pio Marmai could hold particular appeal to older femmes with a penchant for French cinema at its most unapologetically Gallic. However, export value will fall far short of such Scott Thomas hits as “Tell No One” and “I’ve Loved You So Long.”
Two years earlier, a woman died in childbirth while receiving a C-section on the operating table of OB-GYN doctor Anna (Scott Thomas). Now, Anna finds herself abducted at knifepoint by the deceased patient’s young husband Yann (Marmai) and locked in a windowless room. What her kidnapper intends to do next, beyond informing her that “It’s all your fault,” isn’t clear. However, a spark develops between the divorced, career-oriented Anna and the sexily disheveled widower.
The story actually begins in the middle, with Anna escaping captivity, returning home, going to work and then, finally, reporting the crime to the police. After a long flashback segment shows what happened before and catches up with its opening, the plot takes another couple of twists, allowing Yann and Anna to build on the connection they made as kidnapper and victim. Auds who might otherwise find these developments unlikely are apt to concede they do things differently in France.
There’s no denying that, as kidnappers go, Marmai is on the attractive end of the scale. Just as well, since, with much of the drama unfolding inside the bare walls and hard floor of Anna’s cell, “In Your Hands” is short on the surface pleasures often associated with Gallic cinema. Doillon (daughter of Jacques Doillon, wife of Cedric Klapisch), whose previous feature was “Et toi, t’es sur qui?,” puts much faith in the power of her psychological melodrama to captivate. Receptive auds are likely to be of the niche variety.