The Page Turner

Rated NR 2007

Sure, The Page Turner looks and sounds like an NPR junkie's idea of thrill-crazy hothouse fare, but the title of Denis Dercourt's cold-to-the-touch suspenser nods wittily to the potboiler material and motivations snaking around under its elegant furnishings. Melanie, the 10-year-old daughter of a poor butcher -- a tip of the deerstalker, perhaps, to papa Chabrol, whose icy exercises in genre mechanics are the movie's clear antecedent -- flubs her one chance at a scholarship when the concert-pianist judge (Catherine Frot as Ariane) disrupts her audition to sign an autograph. Several years later, Ariane, beset by stage fright after a mysterious accident, prepares for her comeback. All she needs is someone to turn her sheet music for the concert -- and there, handily enough, is her husband's strangely watchful new teenage intern (D�borah Fran�ois). Anyone who remembers The Hand That Rocks the Cradle will see the instruments of revenge laid out like cutlery in a slasher movie's kitchen, and Dercourt's overbright visual scheme aims for a Michael Haneke-esque bourgeois chill that comes off instead as curiously bloodless. But the well-chosen classical selections ratchet up the tension -- Shostakovich makes a mean Bernard Herrmann -- and Fran�ois, so affecting as the teenage mother of the Dardenne brothers' L'Enfant, proves equally effective as an opaque dose of pretty poison.

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