In the Name of My Daughter Catherine Deneuve, Adèle Haenel, Guillaume Canet. Directed by André Téchiné. Rated R. Opens Friday.
Based on a true story that was only recently resolved in court, even though the key events all took place in the 1970s, André Téchiné’s In the Name of My Daughter investigates the disappearance of a young casino heiress, Agnès Le Roux (Adèle Haenel), and the likely culpability of her boyfriend, Maurice Agnelet (Guillaume Canet). Maurice had previously worked for Agnès’ mother, Renée Le Roux (Catherine Deneuve), but after being passed over for a promotion, he became romantically involved with Agnès and managed to persuade her to betray her mother. The two then opened joint bank accounts, and Maurice took Agnès’ small fortune after she mysteriously vanished.
It may have taken decades to convict Maurice for Agnès’ murder (he was finally sentenced last year), but the film plainly considers him guilty, and doesn’t really work as a mystery or a thriller. It works beautifully, however, as a portrait of a toxic relationship, thanks to Canet’s expertly manipulative performance and Haenel’s alluring heedlessness. (Deneuve, who’s top-billed, has comparatively little to do.) Téchiné directs with effortless style, capturing the period without being fussy about it, and suggests the offscreen violence with repeated cuts on frenetic action. Only the modern-day epilogue, conforming to actual events, is a letdown.