It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Not everyone remembers Michel Piccoli's name, but few people who have seen him can forget his face. He is the star of dozens of good French movies, and not a few bad ones, and in almost all of them he commands the screen. His face is saturnine, his curly gray hair receding, his eyebrows a dark black statement, and he is better able to project a dangerous eroticism than anyone else I can think of.
He's often cast as the other man, as the adulterer. When he was younger he took girls away from older men. Now he takes them away from younger ones. There is almost never any doubt that a woman will be attracted to him, and that is, one of the problems with "Mado." Mado isn't. She is a fresh, sweet, very pretty young girl who sleeps with men for money because that is, she explains, less dishonorable than being in debt.
Piccoli is one of the men she sleeps with. It is all very simple, except that during the course of the movie he falls in love with her. And she is already in love with Pierre, a pleasant young man who works as Piccoli's accountant. We'd have a love triangle here . . . except that we can't believe it. It's like "Ryan's Daughter," where we couldn't believe that Sarah Miles would leave Robert Mitchum for the callow Christopher Jones.
Since the poignance of Piccoli's unrequited love is at the center of "Mado," the picture is never quite convincing: We don't believe what's happening. There's a parallel story, though, about Piccoli's complex financial dealings: A friend and partner has gotten in hock to a murderous financier, and committed suicide. Piccoli tries to avenge him by outflanking the financier in a business deal, and is assisted by the helpful Mado (another of her clients has information to incriminate the villain).