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Jeanne Balibar: the French singer and actress gives a performance that is all at once mysterious and grounding

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The new film from Christophe Honore, the French filmmaker who captured emotions through food for the Academy Award winning “A Prophet,” comes at a time when movies with content based around the female body are becoming commonplace.

“Nocturne” is no exception. The film, which focuses on a woman whose body is cut by her son’s wedding band, is reportedly Honore’s last under the Picnic International banner. Starring Jeanne Balibar, Théo Dulat and Maiwenn, it follows her as she struggles to come to terms with the event, even as it does more than drive her to a breakdown.

Balibar, whose work primarily consists of her role as singer in the band Peisley, is quite talented. A poet by profession, she is also a natural stage actor. That talent is quite evident in “Nocturne,” but also hinders her ability to be instantly believable. Balibar is completely lost in some of the film’s moments, which create a sense of absurdity that depletes the impact of each scene.

Balibar balances this unpredictability by letting her camera wander between her character’s present and flashback visions, which seems to give the film more momentum than it could manage otherwise. The best scenes in “Nocturne” come when her character momentarily takes a break from self-reflection and transforms into an innocent housewife, surrounded by that same beautiful family of dogs Balibar so often performs with, leaving Balibar’s dreamy face in between them. It is the film’s most memorable moment.

This performance-driven approach to filmmaking has had a positive effect on Balibar. After hearing of the “Nocturne” film, she saw her old version of the sketch of the nude figure that appears in the film’s closing image, which paints her as a goddess. Her response? “I thanked God,” she said.

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