A COMMON THREAD
Seventeen year old schoolgirl Claire Moutiers (Lola Neymark) lives in a small studio apartment in Angoulème, relying on her part-time job as supermarket cashier to pay the bills. But more importantly, it allows her to indulge in her passion - designing intricate embroideries. When she finds out she is five months pregnant, she decides to keep the news a secret from everyone - even her parents, and takes a job with Madame Melikian (Ariane Ascaride), an embroiderer for haute couture designers. Madame Melikian has her own grief to bear - her only son was recently killed in a motorcycle accident involving Guillaume (Thomas Laroppe), the brother of Claire's best friend Lucile (Marie Félix). As the two women sit and embroider together day by day, a bond grows between them.
Review by Louise Keller:
This sensitive and beautiful French film has quickly earned prestigious accolades, including both the Cannes 2004 Critics' Week Grand Prix and Screenwriters' Award. Now it has been nominated in the French Academy Awards as Best First Work, as have its two outstanding actresses.
When we first meet Claire (Lola Neymark), she is harvesting cabbages from the field of her parents' farm. She soothes her obviously smarting hands from the warm milk of a cow that is grazing nearby. Surrounded by the earthy colours of the falling autumn leaves, this young girl with the shock of flame-coloured hair settles under a tree and confides her secret by letter to her best friend Lucile (Marie Félix). She is expecting a baby. Claire has made the decision to have the baby adopted, and when the doctor examines her, she is partly in denial. Even the sound of the baby's heartbeat is hard to grasp, and it's not until the doctor asks her if she would like to know the sex of the child, does a solitary tear slip from her eye. 'It wasn't me?' asks the young man at the supermarket where she works part time, and it is clear from Claire's response, that their relationship is of no importance.
Neymark is enchanting. Her Claire is naïve, yet knowing, and displays great sensitivity when she starts working with Ariane Ascaride's Madame Melikian, the embroiderer whose devastation from the recent loss of her son is etched all over her face. Madame Melikian notices Claire's expanding waistline, but says nothing. And when the seamstress attempts to take her own life, Claire is the one who finds her and visits her in the hospital. Claire acts as the intermediary for Madame and her son's friend Guillaume (Thomas Laroppe) - neither knows what to say to each other. From their first meeting, there is an attraction between Guillaume and Claire, culminating in an unexpected and moving encounter in the middle of the wheat fields. He is careful not to mention her obvious pregnancy; she avoids referring to his badly scarred face, incurred from the accident.
The heart of the film lies in the relationship between Claire and Madame Melikian. The two women form an alliance - an unspoken bond that develops slowly as they sit opposite each other in a small, dark room, creating exquisite embroideries with thread, beads and pearls. Both women reach a turning point, and find their emotional strength through each other. A Common Thread is as delicate as the intricate needlework that both women are so passionate about. It's an uplifting and optimistic film, canvassing light and shade on both the superficial and profound.
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A COMMON THREAD (M)
CAST: Lola Naymark, Ariane Ascaride, Jackie Berroyer, Thomas Laroppe, Marie Félix, Anne Canovas, Marina Tomém Elisabeth Commelin, Christophe Hatey
PRODUCER: Alain Benguigui, Bertrand Van Effenterre
DIRECTOR: Éléonore Faucher
SCRIPT: Éléonore Faucher, Gaëlle Macé
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pierre Cottereau
EDITOR: Joële Van Effenterre
MUSIC: Mike Galasso
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philippe van Herwijnen
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 19, 2005 (Sydney/Melbourne)
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel
VIDEO RELEASE: January 11, 2006