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THE PAGE TURNER, 2006
At the age of ten, Melanie Prouvost (Francois) is ready for her piano exam which she is sure to pass, however, after being distracted by one of the jury members, Melanie fails the exam. Now, ten years later after giving up piano, she becomes the nanny of the person responsible for failing her as part of an elaborate plot for revenge.
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In the style of Hitchcock, The Page Turner is a suspenseful revenge thriller that comes from modern French cinema. The film is slow, pacing ever so methodically as it builds tension over time. As you’re watching you can help but wonder how exactly Melanie is going to go about her revenge but by the end you realize exactly what she was planning. It’s a nice twist that adds something fresh and new to the clichéd revenge story.
Ten years ago, a young Melanie was taking her piano exam in which several judges observed. She was so talented that it was no question she was going to pass. Until, veteran pianist Ariane (Frot) distracts her during the exam causing her to fail. This unfortunately leads Melanie to quit piano altogether.
A decade later, Melanie, now an adult, is interning at a law firm for Jean (Greggory) who happens to be married to Ariane. Gaining the trust and respect of Jean, Melanie becomes their nanny watching over their son Tristan (Martynciow) and is invited to stay at their home. This is the beginning of Melanie’s plan.
When she discovers that Tristan plays the piano but can only play a certain amount as instructed by his mother to prevent tendonitis, Melanie teaches him how to play faster. Over time, he improves and begins to prepare a piece for his father when he returns from work. But after a while, Tristan starts to develop a pain in his left arm. Melanie, however, keeps telling him to practice. Its moments like this that although are not exactly evil, they are still in a sense twisted because it shows how deep her anger towards Ariane goes that she is even willing to harm the boy.
Ariane we learn also has suffers from her past. A few years back she was hit by a car that left her emotionally fragile making it difficult for her to perform on stage. But being around Melanie gives Ariane the strength and resolve she needs to perform. Eventually she asks Melanie to be her page turner for the upcoming concert in which Melanie accepts.
Both actresses are excellent in letting their quiet performances speak volumes about what their feeling inside. Melanie can read Ariane whenever the latter is in a vulnerable state and she takes advantage of the situation, using it as an opportunity to subtlety manipulate Ariane. Francois’s performance is memorable because she creates a character you would never notice out in the real world unless paying attention. Quiet, conservative, robotic in her movements, Melanie is only concerned about exacting her revenge but she never lets her emotions or character come through. We already know why she’s there and her motivation, the only part that concerns us is what exactly she has planned. It's a creepy and effective performance from the young French actress.
Hitchcock was a master at creating suspense and building a looming tension over his characters. Dercourt takes a page out the late director’s book of suspense and adds a new twist that works well. On the surface The Page Turner is a slow quiet film but in reality it’s a psychological taut thriller where anything can happen at any time.