Comedy Drama

A Woman Interrupted: A TIFF Review of ‘Sibyl’

September 17, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

One could establish an entire genre based on people who betray the honor of their professions. Doctors who do harm. Police who obscure justice. Teachers who cross lines. Or, as in the case of Justine Triet's Sibyl, psychotherapists who disrespect their clients' trust.

Played by the brilliant Virginie Efira, Sibyl is a psychotherapist who pursues her passion — writing — until that isn't the case anymore. After Sibyl makes up her mind about giving up her profession, trouble comes calling when an insistent actress named Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos) seeks her guidance. A walking cliché, Margot is in the midst of a nightmarish love triangle involving the leading man of her latest film and (because things cannot be worse for poor Margot) the demanding director. Oh, and she is pregnant. Margot seeks out Sibyl not only for therapy, but for someone to help her from drowning. However, Sibyl is drowning too.

Women becoming increasingly obsessive and volatile is a staple of French cinema, and Triet taps into all that we love and crave from French psychological dramas about troubled women. At times, Sibyl is rather overwhelming with its push for suspense and drama, but all in all, it is a fascinating revamp of a genre that has been overrun by the male perspective, making for a very compelling and humorous journey.

Sibyl makes its North American premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 40 min.

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