Plot: What’s it about?
Custody is a French film about a divorce between two people and the nasty custody battle they go through. It’s a very effective film, filled with many tense scenes. It’ll likely be a tough film to sit through for many viewers not just for the content itself, but it may hit close to some whose parents may very well have gone through similar things. Coming away from the film and thinking back over it, I find myself hard pressed to flat out recommend it, but there’s no denying its power. It’s not something I think I need to revisit again, but it does make an impression. More than I can say of many recent films I’ve seen.
Miriam (Lea Drucker) and Antoine Besson (Denis Menochet) have divorced and they find themselves in a nasty custody battle as the film begins. We hear both parties state their case. Miriam claims Antoine is abusive, and that there’s been domestic violence. Antoine has his own story to tell, and thinks that his wife and kids are keeping their distance and cutting him out of their lives. He blames this on Miriam, stating that she’s vindictive, among other things. The judge rules in favor of joint custody. Their son Julien (Thomas Gioria) is caught in the middle of all this drama. Antoine will often grill his son trying to seek answers about Miriam. Julien often lies to his father and says that his mother is working or out and about. We get many scenes filled with pure tension whether it’s Julien driving in the car with his father or at the dinner table with Antoine’s parents. He’s living there at the moment since he’s nowhere else to go.
I found myself really caught up in Custody. A big thing too may be that watching a film with English subtitles requires your attention unless you can speak the language itself. The film clocks in around 90 minutes, but accomplishes a lot in this running time. Things become potentially lethal, but I won’t spoil too much. Let it be said that I was almost scared to see how the film would end. It was an even mixture between wanting it to conclude to being unsure of just how far things would go. It’s one that will likely stay with you long after it has ended. While it’s a family drama at its heart, it has the pace and tension of a thriller, which works in its favor. I became scared for the characters seen in this film.
Video: How’s it look?
We’re treated to a 2.35:1 AVC encoded image that looks about as I expected for a film of this sort. That isn’t a bad thing as the image remained consistent throughout. Details were strong, with sharp colors as well. Background shots were strong with little softness or grain to be found. All things told, this transfer presents the film well.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get a pretty standard DTS HD track. Vocals dominate, but there’s the expected clarity, so that’s a plus. Things do get kicked up a notch toward the end of the film, where the track lets loose. There’s a party sequence that shows good range as well. This track satisfies.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Interview with director Xavier Legrand – This piece gives some good notes on the film, casting and what inspired it, among other things.
- Making-of Documentary – A fairly lengthy behind the scenes look that provides the usual notes.
- Just Before Losing Everything – This is a short film also directed by Legrand. We’re told on the menu to watch this after you’ve seen the feature film as it contains spoilers.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Custody isn’t an easy film to sit through, but it made an impression on me. Things build to a tension-filled climax that can be downright hard to watch. Actually, the film itself can be hard to watch sometimes. It has that authenticity to it that’s true to what many couples go through with divorce and the effect it has on the children. I recommend it, but with reservations. This Blu-Ray disc presents the film well and contains some quality extras.