All I knew about the film before seeing it was from reading this TIFF blurb from The Man Who Viewed Too Much: Brodeuses : W/O
[The alternate English title is A Common Thread. The scenario concerns a pregnant teenager and a grieving middle-aged woman who form a tentative bond while working together as seamstresses. Need I continue?]
I respect Mr. D’Angelo, but sometimes the dude’s got his head pretty far up his ass. Sure, if you reduce the plot to a little dry sentence like that, it sound dull as dishwater, but that’d be missing the whole point. I myself am not particularly interested in the work of seamstresses and for much of the film I wasn’t sure where it was going. By the end, though, it all came together quite amazingly… But D’Angelo wouldn’t know, as he’d long since walked out.
At the center of the film is Claire (Lola Naymark), a 17-year-old supermarket checkout girl who’s trying to keep her pregnancy a secret. She doesn’t plan to keep it anyway, so why get her parents on her case? So she hides out in her little apartment, trying to make beautiful little things with needle and thread. Then one day she crosses paths with Madame Mélikian (Ariane Ascaride), an Armenian woman who recently lost her son in a motorbike accident. She hires Claire to do embroidery with her, and a co-dependent relationship slowly builds between them, even though they’re both resisting it.
This is a sober melodrama, never blatantly reaching for effect but quietly moving us nonetheless. The string quartet score works wonders in that department and the film possesses a certain visual finesse, like the veils and dresses the two women create. The green hues of the rural landscape, the interiors and the costumes play strikingly against Claire’s red hair. I don’t know if actress Lola Naymark was actually pregnant during the shoot, but one way or another she’s glowingly gorgeous on screen and she’s a fine little actress, too. Ariane Ascaride is great as well, managing to be poignant without going into hysterics.
“Brodeuses” is a lyrical but realistic ode to motherhood, even though there are no kids on screen. We only see glimpses of Claire’s unborn child and Mme Mélikian’s dead son, but their presence is felt throughout the movie. It’s an impressive debut for writer-director Éléonore Faucher.