Newly in love, a childless 40-year-old woman becomes attached to the man’s 4-year-old daughter with his ex-wife. And love it as his own. Loving other people’s children, however, is always a risk worth taking.

There are no dramatic effects in Other People’s Children. Rebecca Zlotowski (Belle Épine, Grand Central) instead chose sincere emotion to describe the journey of Rachel (excellent Virginie Efira), a 40-year-old woman who becomes attached to the 4-year-old girl whose new lover (Roschdy Zem , always perfect) is the father. Without anything being underlined in broad strokes, this situation forces the heroine to reflect on motherhood, especially because of the speed at which the hands of her biological clock are now turning.

Borrowing a rarer point of view, the filmmaker focuses on the role of “mother-in-law”, in a relationship where the biological mother (Chiara Mastroianni) is also very present in the life of the child. What is the nature of attachment in these circumstances? How to assume this always secondary role for which there is not even a distinct name in the French language? And what happens on the day when, perhaps, the relationship must end?

Drawing inspiration from 1980s classics like Shoot the Moon (Alan Parker) or Kramer vs. Kramer (she uses a Vivaldi piece heard in Robert Benton’s film at the outset), Rebecca Zlotowski thus explores, 40 years later, a different facet of the blended family, at a time when the couple often re-invent.

This is one of the interesting aspects of this everyday painting. Beyond the bond that is forged between a little girl and her father’s new lover, Rebecca Zlotowski paints here, simply and subtly, the portrait of a modern woman, grappling with issues very much of her time.

The filmmaker also takes great care to explore a couple relationship through which Rachel must constantly make internal compromises, knowing that the mother of the little girl, with whom she gets along very well (we are not falling into the cliché here of the forced rivalry), would have practically only one word to say to take again its place in the family dynamics. Virginie Efira and Roschdy Zem, who form a formidable film couple, perfectly convey the exaltation of their meeting, but also the more fragile foundation on which their relationship was built.

Shortlisted last year for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, during which a first version of this text was written, Other People’s Children is without a doubt the most intimate film that Rebecca Zlotowski has offered us. And the most successful.