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By John Black

3 ½ stars

When her mother tells her that the man she’s been having an affair with is leaving his wife for another, younger woman, a middle aged restaurateur named Bettie (Catherine Deneuve) sets off on an adventure that starts with her trying to buy a pack of cigarettes, even though she’s quite smoking, and ends with her rediscovering who she is and what she wants out of life.

And it’s a journey you will enjoy taking with her every step of the way thanks to the engaging performance of Deneuve who, at 70 years of age with more than 119 acting credits on her IMDB resume, is still one of the best at bringing believable female characters to the big screen.

Directed by Emmanuelle Bercot (Backstage), Bettie’s adventures unfold at a leisurely pace that allows the audience to experience it without the American movie obsession to have something hugely dramatic or comedic happen every three minutes, as if the filmmakers are afraid the audience can’t follow a story made up of equal parts conversation and wordless self discovery. When something happens to Bettie, whether it’s meeting her estranged daughter or waking up next to a young man she met the night before, the film doesn’t spend a lot of time spoon feeding the audience about the how, when and why of what just happened.

Director Bercot leaves all that up to Deneuve, and she delivers. Even at the times when the story starts to drag – the section with Bettie getting to know her grandson goes on way too long --- Deneuve steps up and focuses you attention on her character: Sometimes with a word, sometimes with a look, sometimes with her well honed body language that can speak volumes about what Bettie is thinking or feeling just the way she inhales on her cigarette.

It’s a shame that the supporting cast isn’t performing at the same level. The French pop singer Camille gives a one note performance as Bettie’s daughter, Muriel, and Nemo Schiffman’s performance as the grandson, Charly, is annoying enough to make you cheer when Bettie finally slaps him.

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