Movie review: On Air

By Peter Calder

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Karin Viard in French dramedy On Air. Photo / Supplied
Karin Viard in French dramedy On Air. Photo / Supplied

Small and mostly smart, this French drama makes a good fist of none-too-original material, becoming sidetracked only briefly into jarring and ill-advised comedy.

Viard, most recently seen in the child-abuse team drama Polisse, plays Melina, a 40-something star of national night-time talkback radio, whose specialty is extracting intimate self-disclosure from her unseen audience (the film's French title means "tell me about yourself").

She's damn good at what she does - we watch her cut to the heart of callers' problems with surgical precision - but in her own life she's tragically brittle, verging on anally retentive: she lipsticks up before she goes on air and she will do anything, including slipping into radio-host mode, to avoid any sort of human contact.

The film's impelling incident is Melina's decision to unlock some secrets from her own past, which will explain much about the woman she is now, while getting her into an odd spot of bother on the way.

Debutant writer-director Pinaud is not notably subtle in his approach - one shot actually lingers on wilted flowers to make sure we understand an opportunity has been missed - though, to his great credit, the ending is neither obvious nor glib.

But the film is graced with moments of acute emotional intelligence and Viard, whose unsmiling countenance makes her look much grimmer and sterner than she is, turns in a performance of real depth. Worth a look.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cast: Karin Viard, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Nadia Barentin
Director: Pierre Pinaud
Running time: 87 mins
Rating: M (adult themes) In French with English subtitles
Verdict: Emotional intelligence

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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