Pauline&Paulette review

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Living under the wing of her sister Martha (Julienne De Bruyn) in small-town Belgium, child-like pensioner Pauline (Dora van der Groen) leads a comfortable existence. Until, that is, Martha drops dead and Pauline is passed like a hot potato between remaining siblings Cecile (Rosemarie Bergmans) and Paulette (Ann Petersen).

Despite the dog-eared conceit (mentally handicapped innocent teaches self-involved relative the true value of life/love/family), director and co-writer Lieven Debrauwer has moulded a charming tale. Partly this is because events are nicely understated, Debrauwer placing good faith in the gentle pacing and beautiful classical score. But it's mainly down to van der Groen's superb turn. Eschewing the flashy `look at me acting mental!' mannerisms so loved by US actors and, of course, the Academy, she delivers a convincing, sweet-natured performance.

A touching study of emotional isolation, even if the ending does pull just a little too hard at those heartstrings.

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