Kristen Scott Thomas is fast becoming the go-to actor of choice for central roles in French/multi-national film productions entrenched in intrigue, lust and moral degradation. Sadly, as with several of her last outings (with 2011’s The Woman in the Fifth and 2012’s Bel Ami easily the worst two offenders), Scott Thomas often appears to be far above the material she is asked to work with. The same is sadly true of Lola Doillon’s In Your Hands (Contre toi, 2010), given the ominous role of counter-programming against Batman behemoth The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Scott Thomas plays Anna Cooper, a French surgeon who, years before the film begins, was cleared of the death of a woman following a simple caesarean procedure. The woman’s husband Yann (Pio Marmaï), clearly took objection to the verdict and kidnaps Cooper, imprisoning her in a concrete cell. Recalled predominantly through a verbal testimony given by the shell-shocked victim at a local police station, more is gradually revealed about her kidnapper’s motives, to the point where Cooper begins to question the true extent of his wrongdoing during the ordeal.
Despite a tense and intriguing introduction, In Your Hands quickly descends into the tried-and-tested Stockholm syndrome, kidnapper/kidnapped dynamic that has been explored far more successfully in the past. Scott Thomas is assured but ultimately unlikable as the indecisive surgeon, who ironically lacks a clinical touch when it comes to addressing her relationship with the initially cruel and vindictive Yann.
Setting the lead character’s moral decisions and cryptic motivations aside, In Your Hands feels far too small scale and stagy to warrant its cinematic release, only assured – one presumes – by the involvement of Scott Thomas. Television, in particular the hugely popular Nordic noir strand – is currently pushing out far more ambitious, relevant dramas which could easily be transferred to the big-screen. Doillon clearly wants her film to evoke a response (revulsion, sympathy perhaps), but like the ensnared surgeon, we’re never truly sure where we stand.
Scott Thomas will undoubtedly attract offers for roles far more meaty and interesting then what she’s provided with here, and there seems little danger that her multi-lingual star will wane as a result. As for Doillon, In Your Hands shows signs of a directorial talent struggling with mundane, mediocre subject matter – with luck, her next outing will be more impactful.