We begin to spy, in his acute attention to detail, a previously hidden humanity and a genuine moral seriousness, even as he singly fails to get a witness to address him correctly - "Oui, M. Judge", "M. President". The jury go for lunch following the first hearing and we meet a nice array of diverse characters. There's an unemployed grandmother, the class clown, the shy young Arab girl etc. Our attention is shifted towards them and with the court case now in the foreground, it might be reasonable to presume that this is going to become a courtroom drama - but again no. Racine, it turns out, is divorcing amicably - so no comedy there - and is embarking on a nascent relationship with one of the jurors, a Danish anaesthetist (Sidse Babett Knudsen) whom he met while having his hip operation, and is shocked to see called onto his jury. When he meets her for dinner that evening the possibility comes to mind that this could now become a case of dangerous liaisons with farcical potential, but Racine nips that idea in the bud. "It's unconventional, but not illegal," he quickly asserts.
It's Vincent's obstinate refusal to slip into a familiar genre that makes Courted such an oddly interesting and almost anti-dramatic film. The characters look like comic types at a distance but once we approach they become human beings with all the enigmatic complexity that entails. The acting throughout is thoroughly credible and the interactions continually provide a surprising depth, as when Ditte's 17-year-old daughter (Eva Lallier) tags along to Racine and Ditte's second rendezvous. The refusal to go the easy route is admirable but in the midst of all these discarded possibilities it's possible that what we're left with is as elusive as the sought after 'truth'. And yet Racine warns us that this is not what we're going to get anyway - perhaps this generically slippery slice-of-life should simply be taken for what it is.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty