With no cinemas for us to visit just now, the French Film Festival has an exceptional selection of quality films scheduled over three weekends in March in their fff@home season. And based on what we’ve seen so far, you’ll be on a winner whatever your viewing tastes.
Justine Triet’s In Bed With Victoria defies easy categorisation – too much drama to be a rom-com – “You’re the Queen of Drama Queens” Sam (Vincent Lacoste) tells Victoria (Virginie Efira) at one point. And yet the drama is never of such a perilous nature that you fear for the protagonists’ ability to transcend it.
Lawyer Victoria’s life is pretty messy, though. Her partner has left her and the kids, and is writing a blog where the main character is clearly a version of Victoria, portraying her as sexually promiscuous and probably corrupt. Her love life is, in fact fairly non-existent, reduced to a succession of unsuitable men from a dating site who pass through her bedroom and her life, with none worthy of a second glance.
Meanwhile, against all advice, she takes on a case defending an old friend on an attempted murder charge brought by his partner, even though they are back together. A recipe for a disaster that duly arrives.
Throughout all this, Sam, an ex-dealer whom she successfully defended in the past, has moved in to sleep on her couch, look after the children and try to bring some semblance of organisation to her life. It takes no great skill to conclude that he will turn out to be the lover that she needs at the end of the day. But this is not a film based around unexpected, jaw-dropping plot twists, this is someone doing what they can to get through life, making mistakes sometimes, but doing all they can to keep their head above water. A situation most of us can relate to, particularly in these difficult times.
The real strength of the film lies in Triet’s direction, allowing Victoria to be complicated and capricious. By showing her as less than perfect – which of course we all are in real life – Victoria starts off being less than lovable but as time goes on she becomes easier and easier to warm to. A difficult part, which is exceptionally well played by Efira.