In Your Hands
Released 20 July in Selected Cinemas | Review by Robert W. Monk
The reliably excellent Kristin Scott Thomas (Bel Ami, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The English Patient) delivers a sensitively drawn performance that carries this French psychological thriller out of the run of the mill and into more interesting territory. Guaranteed to provoke debate – particularly in regards towards modern French attitudes to gender politics – this is a flawed yet effective mystery that keeps the audience guessing.
The bilingual Scott Thomas plays Anna Cooper, a career minded surgeon who is suddenly taken captive by an incensed younger man (played with controlled rage by Pio Marmaï) who may or may not be linked to Anna’s past. The dreamlike and artfully arranged narrative begins with Cooper wandering hazily after escaping from her squalid prison. The film then collects her woozy recollections as she pieces together her painful experiences…
Confident direction from Lola Doillon brings an air of disquieting menace to this study of the psychological phenomena known as Stockholm syndrome – the behavioural state where the captive begins to sympathise with the captor. Of course, it helps when the captor is tall, dark and handsome!
Reminiscent of, but certainly not of the same calibre as, other French thrillers such as Anything For Her and Tell No One, In Your Hands (originally titled Contre Toi in France) is firmly in the sort of territory that French cinema does so well. Unfortunately shaky characterisation and dubious sexual mores afflict the second half of the taut thriller like a disease that Cooper would be well equipped to root out. Keeping things firmly in the realm of warped love story is all very well, but asking the audience to believe that a successful, professional and intelligent woman feels incomplete without a man, no matter how bestial, is stretching things too far. This aside, Scott Thomas is great as ever and almost makes you lose sight of the peculiar French obsession with coupling characters off, no matter how unsuitable. Almost, but not quite.