Review of “Out of the Blue” (“La Surprise”)

Out of the Blue (La Surprise) proves once again that the French do melodrama well. A heartfelt film about the complications and joys of finding love in unexpected places, the movie is a well-paced treat for fans of a good “kitchen sink” drama/romance.

Directed by Alain Tasma and written by Dominique Garnier, the film is currently making the rounds of the independent film festival circuit.

The drama begins in the very first scene, as we watch Marion (Mireille Perrier), an attractive middle-aged woman, leave her husband quite permanently instead of carry on with their evening plans.

Paul (Robin Renucci) is an unappreciative jerk from the get-go, though Marion’s decision is complicated by the protests of their teenage daughter Justine (Chloé Coulloud), who doesn’t take the news well.

Marion herself is a high school drama teacher (Justine is even in her class), and she begins her single life with a fling with a scruffy actor. Soon enough, however, she meets Claude (Rachida Brakni), a gorgeous antiques dealer, and a few unfamiliar sparks begin to fly.

While their bond begins innocently enough, with a shared pizza and a few furniture loans, things soon begin to get stormy &#8212 and sexy. Both women are carrying emotional baggage that could bring down a freight train, making the “push and pull” of their relationship so compelling and honest.

Marion struggles with her sexuality &#8212 she has never fallen for a woman before. She considers herself conservative, and her outspoken and (realistically) troubled teen make every step of the way more difficult for her.

Claude is practically shrouded in a mystery &#8212 she’s beautiful and urbane, with a penchant for dancing and the arts, though she’s carrying a secret that causes her to lash out and distance herself from Marion’s halting advances.

Both characters are exceptionally well drawn and the leads put in excellent performances. Perrier brings a grounded sense of both excitement and trepidation to Marion, who spends the bulk of the film in unfamiliar territory. Brakni is a force of nature in her role, and the young woman who plays Justine (Chloé Coulloud) really does an excellent job as an adolescent caught in the middle of a messy separation.

In fact, Coulloud has quite a difficult job &#8212 Justine is bratty and selfish in the way that teens can often be, though she’s clearly a loving, conflicted child at the same time. She truly loves both of her parents, though she spends plenty of time with an older boyfriend and his crew of miscreants. Though she takes her mother’s actions quite hard, she always comes back for comfort.