Miss and the Doctors
A drama directed by Axelle Ropert in 2013
Starring Cédric Kahn, Laurent Stocker, Louise Bourgoin...
Release date in France: September 4, 2013
Two brothers, Boris and Dimitri Pizarnik, are inseparable. They are both family physicians and work at the same surgery in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Open-minded, understanding, and attentive to their patients, Boris and Dimitri are passionate about their profession and devote a large part of their lives to their patients. One night, the brothers are called on to treat Alice, a young diabetic girl whose mother Judith, a waitress, is forced to leave her daughter alone at home every night. Boris and Dimitri both fall in love with this young mother who is bringing up her daughter on her own, and before long their relationship as brothers is turned upside down...
A romantic comedy? Not quite. What we have here is more a matter of spiritual romanticism— a sentiment that is enthusiastically defended in the film, against all odds. Without drifting into trite or cheesy territory, director Axelle Ropert favors expressionism over realism, without ever losing touch with real life. The Pizarnik brothers, Boris and Dimitri, are passionately committed to their profession as doctors, and to their neighborhood—Paris's Chinatown, near the famous Olympiades residential tower complex. The brothers work together in the same medical surgery; they are complementary, without being alike. A curious brotherly love binds them, combined with a shared conscientiousness, and although they live in separate apartments, their apartments face each other. They are both single, and appear not to need anyone else in their lives.
But what if Boris and Dimitri were actually one and the same person? One wonders about this as their unusual and rather sad situation intrigues us like a modern fairy tale. It comes as no surprise, then, that a kind of princess appears on the scene, brought in contact with the doctors thanks to her young daughter, a diabetic child who is their patient. Judith (Louise Bourgoin) works at night in a bar. Soon they both fall in love with her. Will she fall for the charms of one of them, and if so, which one? After her film The Wolberg Family, this second feature by Axelle Ropert is just as accomplished and original, as the filmmaker shifts from one bold choice to another, brushing aside any focus on psychology and naturalism in order to develop a kind of transparent mystery that is both mischievous and elegant. The film nonetheless deals with serious issues—health, loneliness, anxiety—and yet this seriousness never becomes overbearing. We discreetly learn, for example, that one of the brothers is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a subject tactfully evoked by Axelle Ropert.
The extreme sensitivity of this film, infused with subtle elegance, pervades this story of a love triangle that blends action and daydreams, carried along by the literary style of the dialogue. Joy and sadness are inseparable, and one person's happiness can lead to another's despair, and the film does not shy away from a sense of cruelty. The motto of Miss and the Doctors, which is punctuated by verbal as well as real ping-pong, could well be "Fair play in all things!"
Review by Jacques Morice for Télérama Magazine.