Film review: On Air

Melina is the nom de plume of Claire Martin (Karin Viard), Radio France's popular agony aunt. In On Air (Rialto), Melina offers soothing words of wisdom two hours a night while Claire lives an arid existence unable to practise what she preaches.

We quickly learn that Claire was abandoned as a baby, her only link to her past a postcard from her mother promising to come back for her as soon as she can. Forty years on, Claire is tired of waiting and she has hired a detective agency to find her errant mother, Joelle (Nadia Barentin). But now that she has found her, Claire is pathologically unable to bowl up and introduce herself. She dreads a second rejection so instead she worms her way into her mother's life by volunteering at the charity where she works.

Claire is fixated on Joelle, but it is the other members of her family that respond to Claire. Before she knows what is happening, Lucas (Nicolas Duvauchelle), Joelle's stepgrandson, is courting her. Claire gives him no encouragement, but Lucas is drawn to the mystery of the elegant stranger who is suddenly fascinated by his suburban family.

Best thing: While there can be no happy ending to this pickle, French style serves up an elegant ambiguity.

Worst thing: There is a chunkiness to the writing, with the mechanics of manoeuvring the characters on open display.

See it with: Someone without mummy issues.

Director: Pierre Pinaud
Cast: Karin Viard, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Nadia Barentin, Catherine Hosmalin, Patrick Fierry
Rating: (M)
2 stars (out of 5)

By Christine Powley