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.