With In the Courtyard, veteran director Pierre Salvadori, a master of the melancholy comedy, achieves the rare feat of capturing contemporary French society not through headlines or social reportage, but a deeply empathetic rendition of its moods. It begins when Antoine (Gustave Kervern) walks away from his life as a rock singer and takes a job as the live-in custodian of a modest Paris apartment building. His new residence seems to be a magnet for people who share his emotional fragility: there’s the man on the fourth floor who is obsessed with noise and clutter; the failed soccer star who snorts coke and plays Xbox all day; a homeless Eastern European who squats in the property’s garden shed with his dog. Most touching of all is Mathilde (Catherine Deneuve), a retiree who is gradually becoming convinced that the crack in her wall is going to swallow up the entire neighborhood. In the understated, oddball friendship formed by Mathilde and Gustave, Salvadori finds the hope in a world of loneliness and anxiety and gives France’s national icon Catherine Deneuve an opportunity to display yet another facet of her extraordinary talent. As troubling as it is amusing, In the Courtyard is the very definition of the sleeper hit: a modest, well-crafted picture that will tell us what it was like to be French in 2015 for decades to come.
Pierre Salvadori, David Colombo-Leotard
Blu-ray, DCP, DVD
Cohen Media Group