Touching perfs and a very keen eye distinguish “A Common Thread,” a beautifully observed story of an unwed pregnant teen who forms a wry friendship with a woman whose only son recently died. Thoughtful cross-generational portrait is full of familiar building blocks rendered fresh by first time feature helmer Eleonore Faucher. French lingo career seems assured; fests shouldn’t hesitate.
Raised on a farm near the industrial town of Angouleme, 200 miles southwest of Paris, Claire (Lola Naymark) works as a cashier at a huge supermarket but lives for the spare hours she can devote to embroidering her original designs on fine fabrics and rabbit pelts.
A curvy redhead of 16 or 17, Claire lives alone in a small studio and has thus far concealed her unwanted pregnancy from co-workers and family. She shares her condition in detailed letters to her best friend who lives in Lyons.
Through a chain of circumstances, Claire is taken on as an assistant by Madame Melikian (Ariane Ascaride), a master embroiderer who sews delicate ornamentation for the top fashion houses. Stern but fair, Madame Melikian is still in mourning for her twentysomething son who was killed in a motorcycle accident and who performed the work Claire is now doing.
Ever so gradually, the mother-to-be, who doesn’t want a baby, and the bereaved mother, who is ambivalent about continuing to live without her beloved son, forge a relationship built on unspoken understanding and mutual respect for their craft.
Pic’s understated power accrues from the unpretentious observation of details. Although there’s nothing inherently special about the setting, the lensing and lighting are nearly as rich as the compositions in “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” Whether the action involves gutting a live eel or stitching opalescent sequins to gossamer cloth, the camera is deployed with wisdom.
Naymark and Ascaride couldn’t be better.