150 Milligrams

La Fille de Brest

Emmanuelle BercotFrance128 minutes201614AColourFrench

Director, screenwriter and actor Emmanuelle Bercot (Mon roi) adapts Irène Frachon’s bestselling memoir for this story of a dedicated doctor whose investigation into recent patient deaths leads to a crusade against a powerful drug company.

Acclaimed director, screenwriter, and actor Emmanuelle Bercot has emerged over the past decade as one of Europe's foremost triple talents: her feature directorial debut, Backstage, screened at TIFF in 2005, and her film Standing Tall opened last year's Cannes festival, where she also won the Best Actress prize for her role in Mon roi. With her latest film, the charged social drama La Fille de Brest, she is poised to broaden her audience in North America. An angry piece of filmmaking designed to draw attention to a serious issue and shake up a complacent system, it tells the true story of a woman's long fight to be taken seriously as she confronts the pharmaceutical industry.

Based on Irène Frachon's bestselling memoir Médiator 150mg, La Fille de Brest is set in Brittany — a key element of the film as there is a constant tension between Paris and the provinces — and revolves around Irène (Sidse Babett Knudsen), a hospital lung specialist who begins to suspect a connection between recent patient deaths and medications being prescribed. After she turns to the hospital's head of research, Antoine (Benoît Magimel), for help, Irène's investigation leads her to a powerful drug company. Of course, that's when things start to get ugly. Antoine's research unit is suddenly threatened with funding cuts, and Irène's colleagues begin to view her derisively as a meddlesome crusader.

Frachon's story calls to mind that of another hard-charging activist: Erin Brockovich. But Bercot's distinct personality as a director ensures that this is new cinematic territory. In Knudsen, who appears in almost every scene in the film, she finds an actor fully up for the role of the steely heroine, and Magimel offers able support. As this eye-opening and inspiring work illustrates, Frachon simply never gave up, until — well, see the film to find out what happened!

PIERS HANDLING.

Female Director