The teenage Belgian actress Deborah Francois, impressive in the Dardenne brothers' The Child, excels in this intelligently understated revenge drama from writer/director Denis Dercourt. She plays butcher's daughter Melanie, an eerily self-possessed young woman, who insinuates herself into the household of married concert pianist Ariane (Catherine Frot), who herself is oblivious to the real reasons for her new employee's scrupulous attentiveness. Accompanied by a menacing classical score, The Page Turner is pleasingly reminiscent of Claude Chabrol's perverse thrillers.
The principal location in The Page Turner is the imposing country mansion inhabited by Ariane, her lawyer husband Jean (Pascal Greggory) and their young son, and it proves a choice setting for a sinister story of class envy and simmering emotions. With her scraped-back hair, impassive demeanour and flat shoes, Melanie passes through the deserted corridors like a modern-day version of Hitchcock's Mrs Danvers from Rebecca, materializing in rooms without warning. Quickly, the servant becomes indispensable to the highly-strung Ariane, who gives Melanie the crucial role of being the page-turner at her recitals, and who finds herself falling for her new employee.
Making intelligent use of the different spaces and levels within the house and garden, including an underground swimming pool, Dercourt also understands the impact of one strategic ally-placed piece of violence in making us fear for what Melanie might do to those around her. And when the filmmaker delivers a psychologically satisfying coup de grace, it's all the more memorable because it doesn't involve bloodshed.