Director Claude Miller was a protege of Francois Truffaut, and the French master’s influence is clear in this low-key thriller, based on the novel THE TREE OF HANDS by Ruth Rendell. Betty (Sandrine Kiberlain), a reclusive best-selling author and mother of a young son, is having a hard enough time dealing with a visit from her eccentric and self-involved mother, Margot (Nicole Garcia), who suffers from a blood disorder that occasionally makes her violent. Betty has the scars from her childhood to prove it. When Betty’s son is suddenly and tragically killed, Margot doesn’t seem very sympathetic. This story is intertwined with the story of Carole (Mathilde Seigner of WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY), the neglectful and abusive mother of Jose (Alexis Chatrian), who is about the same age as Betty’s son. When Margot, in a deranged effort to help her daughter, kidnaps Jose, Carole’s good-natured African boyfriend, Francois (Luck Mervil) is a prime suspect, and goes looking for the real kidnapper to clear his name. Miller deftly weaves an engaging and suspenseful tale in which characters of different classes and cultures pass through each other’s lives. While some of them behave atrociously, Miller never forgets their essential humanity.