It’s never a waste of time to watch Juliette Binoche, and this film, which screened at Cannes in 2921, is definitely worth seeing. It is inspired by Florence Aubena’s best-selling book about her experiences posing as an uneducated single woman who takes the only job she can find—and qualifies for—as a housecleaner. (Even in the English-language subtitles, it’s amusing to see the euphemistic ways the job is described.)

With no airs or even a hint of condescension Binoche joins the ranks of (mostly) women who clean toilets, make beds, and endure punishing hours and uncaring employers so they can pay their rent and put food on the table.

Although she bonds with a handful of coworkers she remains a loner, and we soon learn the reason why: she is in fact a successful author who believes that before she can write about people living at or below the poverty line, she must endure their hardscrabble existence first-hand.

Between Two Worlds is both credible and absorbing. This is the first feature Emmanuel Carrère has directed since The Moustache (2008) and it’s a skillful piece of journalistic observation, leavened with a dash of empathy. I wish I found the denouement more satisfying, coming as it does after a climactic revelation that shakes its leading characters to the core.

Binoche pursued the author for years for a chance to make this adaptation and she has nothing to be ashamed of, least of all her thoughtful performance. 

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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February 2024