Laure Calamy owns every second of Her Way, pulling herself every which way emotionally as the exhausted single-parent sex worker. Cécile Ducrocq’s debut is a strong and memorable one full of humanity.
Marie (Laure Calamy) is a confident, optimistic sex worker in Strasbourg who is determined to provide a better life for her 17-year-old son, Adrien (Nissim Renard). Unfortunately, he is a bottomless pit of apathy and negativity whose only passion in life is cooking. The opportunity to attend a prestigious and expensive cookery school forces Marie to take increasingly desperate measures to fund his place.
Cécile Ducrocq sure knows how to grab your attention from the first scene in her feature debut film, Her Way, with our lead Marie detailing and then performing what she will do to her client. Laure Calamy is an assured hand for Ducrocq to depend on, owning each scene with a wonderfully energetic performance that engages you. You can’t help but root for her, so when she gives up her independence to work in a club, you feel for her. She seemed to shine doing it on her own, but the desperation amps up and takes its toll on her.
While a lot will and should be said about the sex worker side of the film, Her Way‘s main and best focus is on the mother-son dynamic between Marie and Adrien. Like in so many parental relationships, when the child has almost reached adulthood, there are numerous miscommunications and desires from the parent to push their child forward while the child dithers and dallies. However, there is also an overriding mutual sense of frustration and love for each other throughout the film, with only one willing to make the compromises and sacrifices needed. You believe their relationship effortlessly with both actors doing excellently in their given roles.
Calamy shines here as a single parent who will do whatever she can to help her son achieve his dreams, even if he is keen to derail them with his attitude. With each setback, you feel for her; you see her trying to work out her next move while knowing how rigid the rules are for the school; she keeps doggedly trying to sway them above the deadline for that €5000 fee.
In those moments where she is acting like the mother, she vibrates with energy; there is anger and frustration present of a woman who, while loves her work, hates that she has been left alone to figure it out for her son. Make no mistake, this is her film, with there barely being a moment where she isn’t on screen in some form. You are actively engaged with her performance throughout Her Way as she never seems, like the film itself, to stop being on the move.
While there is so much goodwill towards the film, it feels as if Her Way is stretched just too much with the plot. The sole focus should be on Marie’s aim of providing for her son while continuing her role, but to add in a couple of needless subplots dilutes what was working so well beforehand. However, Ducurocq makes it work just enough to get away with it and as we see Adrien hopefully be the person he was meant to be, or at least start heading down the right path. Marie’s future employment is narrowing faster than she would like to admit. However, Her Way is still a very solid, confident film that has you pulling for the family.
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Her Way in cinemas on 26 August.
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