“Sometimes life has a way of working out” seems to be the message at the heart of Cécile Ducrocq’s feature directorial debut, Her Name. A grounded mother-and-son drama, the feature stars Call Me Agent’s Laure Calamy as sex worker and single mum Marie. She’s proud of her job and does what she can to provide for her troubled 17-year-old son Adrien (Nissim Renard). He hides behind a wall of impenetrable apathy but aspires to become a chef (though he’d be reluctant to admit it). When he has a chance to attend a prestigious culinary school, however, Marie must find a way to gather the pricey tuition for the upcoming semester. Though the task seems almost impossible, she’s determined to do it her way.
Ducrocq’s film seamlessly blends its family drama with a rich portrait of the life of a sex worker. Marie isn’t ashamed of what she does but faces daily stigma for what is her own choice. She’s a fighter but immensely stubborn and has some of her own prejudices too. The protagonist is far from perfect – it’s even difficult to describe her as pleasant at times – though she is fiercely independent and willing to do whatever it takes for her family. Calamy shines in the leading role, painting Marie in all her contrasting lights. The star is responsible for carrying the weight of the film and the character’s strife on her shoulders, and she does so effortlessly in a performance that strikes all the right chords.
Alongside the familial struggles that hold the narrative together, Her Way also serves as a small window that gives viewers a glimpse into the life of a Strasbourg sex worker. Whether it’s dealing with inappropriate clients, workplace rivalries, or financial strain, each of these observations helps to fully realise the character and her world in a manner that is neither sleazy nor exploitative.
By the third act, Calamy shows a woman at breaking point, driven by a desperate situation. But despite her incredible performance, the script isn’t as successful when it comes to setting the dramatic stakes. There is an upcoming deadline to get the money, though there’s no sense of urgency in what follows, and this takes the satisfaction away from the hopeful conclusion.
Her Way does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Her Way here: