The shape of Xavier Legrand’s “Custody” is familiar enough — a family torn apart by a raging custody battle is forced to contend with a bad divorce, emotionally distraught children, and a pair of parents at loose ends — but Legrand takes those seemingly standard narrative lines and turns them into something wholly unexpected in his feature directorial debut. While “Custody” is certainly occupied with the fallout from a contentious breakup, Legrand also builds in the kind of tension that would be at home in a different kind of domestic thriller. This isn’t just a family drama, it’s something much more twisted (and twisting).
“Custody” is all about the gray spaces, as Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine (Denis Ménochet) attempt to hammer out an agreement regarding their two young children, including son Julien (Thomas Gioria), a legal battle that reveals all kinds of messy details, the kind that don’t necessarily have a black or white answer. Miriam claims that Antoine is violent and her kids need to be protected from them, while Antoine contends that Miriam is a liar purposely turning his offspring against him.
In the film’s first official trailer, that drama is rendered in heart-pounding terms, with “Custody” looking more like a thriller than a drama, all ticking clocks and frightened glances. Underneath all that? A big secret.
The film won the Silver Lion for Best Director at Venice last year, and went on to screen at the COLCOA French Film Festival, Rendez-vous with French Cinema, Palm Springs, and TIFF. Check out our exclusive trailer for “Custody” below.
Kino Lorber will release “Custody” on June 29.