The Midwife provides a platform for two terrific French actors. Catherine Frot plays Claire, a hard-working, very capable senior midwife in a maternity clinic in Paris. In the midst of her concens over the take-over of the clinic by a private facility, she is surprised by the re-appearance of her father’s former mistress, the elderly Beatrice (played by Catherine Deneuve).
Although Claire is not keen to meet the woman who drove her father to commit suicide when she left him, she agrees and thus begins an unusual relationship. In fact Beatrice has a positive influence on Claire, who forms a relationsip with Paul (Oliver Gourmet) who works on the same allotment. She is moved to become more sympathetic when she learns that Beatrice has terminal cancer.
The film verges on the ove-sentimental and is prone to exagerated sequences such as Claire literally letting her hair down to denote emotional release. However, director Martin Provost has managed to give us some imaginative scenes, particularly those in the maternity clinic, where we witness the birth of babies and Claire re-uniting with a woman who is having a baby and Claire realises that she delivered the woman some 28 years before.
Deneuve gives her part a blowsy full-bodied characterisation while Frot’s performance is subtler showing us an inhibited woman. The two actresses work well together and the somewhat plodding plot is saved by the two sensitive actresses.