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In Your Hands

Opening Date
12 Sep 2019
PG13 Some Coarse Language and Scene of Intimacy
105 mins
French - subtitles to be advised
Ludovic Bernard
Lambert Wilson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jules Benchetrit
Music is Mathieu Malinski’s secret. It’s something he doesn’t dare discuss with the buddies he hangs out with in the projects, where he’s from. But when one of the petty burglaries he commits with them almost lands him behind bars, the National Music Conservatory’s director, Pierre Geithner, gets him out in exchange for hours of community service. But Pierre has something else in mind… Having detected in Mathieu the potential to become a great pianist, he signs him up to the national piano competition. As Mathieu enters a new world, whose codes and etiquette he doesn’t know, he is taught by the uncompromising “Countess” and meets Anna, with whom he falls in love. To succeed at this competition, which will determine all their destinies, Mathieu, Pierre and the Countess will have to learn how to transcend their prejudices… 
By Flora  12 Sep 2019
French film In Your Hands is a predictable coming-of-age tale of a young man with his rare gift for music. 
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Every once in awhile, you come across a film about a young music prodigy on a journey to his or her music stardom. Some embrace that talent, but some shun from it. Along the way, there are setbacks and challenges that the protagonist has to face in order to succeed and stand out from the crowd. 

Mathieu (Jules Benchetrit) is your average teenager who lives with his family in a neighbourhood where peer pressure has led him into petty theft. He was able to learn to play the piano at a young age but wasn’t able to pursue it due to the family’s financial instability. His love for the piano never died, even though he grew up trying to forget it. But when he saw a piano at the Gare du Nord in Paris, he couldn’t help himself to play a sublime classic piece that captures the attention of the people around him, including Pierre Geithner (Lambert Wilson), the music director of the national conservatory in Paris. The two never got to meet and talk as Mathieu sprints off the moment he spots some police officers nearby. His itch for the musical instrument and the love for music eventually became led him to his arrest. 

Instead of jail time, he opted for correctional work order at the conservatoire, while taking piano lessons there from one of the strictest but effective teachers, La Contessa (Kristin Scott Thomas). After a few lessons, and motivation from Pierre and a schoolmate he fancies, Mathieu is more than determined to be the school’s best pianist and to win the coveted title in an international competition. With social pressure and a tough competitor to defeat, Mathieu has to prove to Pierre, the school and himself that his background and history is not the determining factor for success. 

In Your Hands is a film with a very familiar storyline that we’ve somewhat seen before, there’s nothing particularly special about it, nor is it a bore to watch. Additionally, there’s an element of classical music that adds to the film’s overall tone. Mathieu’s journey from a rebellious youngster to a polished, talented pianist is enjoyable to watch as the audience goes through his transformation - with the ups and downs - as well. Benchetrit’s Mathieu is convincing, especially with the piano skills that he executed in the film, though there are occasional moments where his performance felt stoic. Wilson as the determined institution’s department head feels a bit forced at times, especially when it comes to his boldness and dedication in helping Mathieu. It’ll be nice to see a further-explored subplot with his wife and son, and how their marriage - or lack thereof - has affected his decisions. 

While the film is predictable, there are lovely moments in it that is worth a watch. The relationships between Mathieu and his teachers; Pierre and his wife, and even a sweet romance between Mathieu and cellist Anna (Karidja Toure). 
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