Given the uncanny dedication, amid crushing expectations, that defines the child prodigy, it’s no leap of faith to imagine a failed whiz kid as a psychological thriller’s resident ticking time bomb; given the inverted power dynamic and fraught codependency that defines the relationship between a concert pianist and her page turner, it’s no leap of faith to imagine a recital hall as said thriller’s ground zero. Thus, The Page Turner, in which former junior ivory-tinkler Mélanie (Deborah François) blank-faces her way into a position as the professional and emotional crutch of Ariane (Catherine Frot), the fragile pianist who caused her to screw up her conservatory audition all those years ago. There’s queasy pleasure in watching writer-director Denis Dercourt set his dominoes: there an absent husband and here a handsy cellist, Ariane’s son has a habit of holding his breath underwater for as long as he can, and, through it all, a metronome ticking ever faster. But while Dercourt’s timing is exquisite, his range is minimal: the TV production values and escalating tensions remain decorously minor-key, and the payoff is strictly pianissimo.
"A few nights ago, I had a dream that my long-dead childhood pet—an overweight Springer Spaniel named Peppermint Patty—ate my entire novel, page by page, wagging her tail the entire time. When she was finished, she woofed once, licked my face, and curled up next to me on the sofa. She appeared deeply satisfied."