From the very first scene with the judge, who reads out a statement by their 11-year-old son Julien, the tension between the former spouses is palpable. The nervous mother (Léa Drucker) accuses the colossal father (Denis Ménochet) of threats and violence; he says that she is trying to turn their child against him. The elder daughter goes her own way, but Julien is caught in the middle. It’s no coincidence that the title (like the English title Custody) refers to guardianship and imprisonment.
Xavier Legrand (this is the sequel to his Oscar-nominated short film Avant que de tout perdre from 2013, with the same adult protagonists) does not ease off the suspense, and works inexorably towards an almost unbearable climax. Often nerve-rackingly tight framing imprisons the characters; their naturalist acting brings them closer. This intense debut by Thomas Gioria is particularly striking in the role of scared yet surly Julien. The film won prizes in Venice for Best Director and Best Debut.

International title
Custody
Filmmaker
Xavier Legrand
Country
France
Year
2017
Medium
DCP
Length
94’
Language
French
Producer
Alexandre Gavras
Production Company
K.G. Productions
Sales
Celluloid Dreams
Writer
Xavier Legrand
Cinematography
Nathalie Durand
Editor
Yorgos Lamprinos
Production Design
Jérémie Sfez
Sound Design
Julien Sicart, Julien Roig, Vincent Verdoux
Cast
Denis Ménochet, Léa Drucker, Thomas Gioria, Mathilde Auneveux, Saadia Bentaïeb, Sophie Pincemaille, Emilie Incerti-Formentini