Orphan (Orpheline)

Arnaud des Pallières

France, 2016 / 111 min / French OV with French and Dutch subtitles / Drama

A portrait of a woman, orphaned in her mind but not in reality.

Four moments in the lives of four female characters. A little girl from the countryside, playing a game of hide and seek that turns to tragedy. A teenager, caught in an endless succession of runaways, men and mishaps, because anything is better than her desolate family home. A young woman who moves to Paris and has a brush with disaster. The grown-up at last, an accomplished woman, who thought she was safe from her own past. Gradually, these characters come together to form a single heroine.


“Orphan” is a tour de force of narrative pleasures. Equally engrossing are the actors des Pallières has cast, all of whom bring a sense of mystery and delight to this artfully crafted ensemble piece. But, above all, it is a portrait of a woman, orphaned in her mind but not in reality; an emotionally brave work from a filmmaker unafraid to make bold creative choices.

Fri 03/03 19:00 Ciné Utopia FR OV with FR & NL SUBT Public

: "This film, like it's central character is willfully complex and surprisingly fluid, wrong-footing us as we try to fill in the spaces between each vignette at the same time as drawing us to its thriller component." Amber Wilkinson,, 16/11/2016


“Among France’s most fearless and ambitious directors, des Pallières builds his film like a Russian doll, daring to picture one woman and four identities in no chronological order. Viewers may be disoriented at first — but then, so is Karine-Sandra-Renée — before realizing that a patient deconstruction of the character’s past en route to understanding her original childhood trauma is actually the only way to reach the heart and soul of a woman who chose to consider herself an orphan although both of her parents are probably still alive(…) The film’s sometimes cruel realism arises as much from Christelle Berthevas’s partly autobiographical script as it does from “Holy Motors” DP Yves Cape’s naturalistic and unromantic cinematography. Faces are filmed so closely that the most beautiful actresses, laid bare, all become ordinary women in distress, easy to relate to, with their artificial makeup or imperfect skins. (…) des Pallières offers a beautifully singular insight into a dauntless woman’s mind, prepared to reinvent herself ad infinitum until she achieves absolute freedom.” Pamela Pianezza, Variety, 11/09/2016

  • Bayard d’or du meilleur film – Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur, 2016 (France)
Cast & Credits
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Gemma Arterton, Adèle Haenel, Solène Rigot, Véga Cuzitek, Jalil Lespert, Nicolas Duvauchelle
Christelle Berthevas, Arnaud des Pallières
Yves Cape AFC SBC
Brigitte Taillandier
Guillaume Deviercy
Eric Debegue, Will Bates
Les Films Hatari, Les Films d'ici
Arte France Cinéma, Rhônes Alpes Cinéma
Imagine Film

Arnaud des Pallières was born in Paris in 1961. Having studied literature, he directed several plays and short films. He shot his first feature film, “Drancy Avenir”, in 1996. He is also the author of “Parc” (2008), based on a novel by John Cheever which competed at the Venice Mostra. In 2013, “Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas”  was, selected to compete at Cannes. “Orphan” is his fifth feature. In addition to directing, Arnaud des Pallières also pens the screenplays for and edits all of his films.

  • 2016 - Orphan
  • 2013 - Michael Kohlhaas
  • 2011 - Poussières d’Amérique (documentary)
  • 2010 - Diane Wellington (short)
  • 2008 - Parc
  • 2004 - Adieu
  • 2001 - Disneyland, Mon Vieux Pays Natal (documentary)
  • 1999 - Is Dead ou Portrait Incomplt de Gertrud Stein (documentary)
  • 1996 - Drancy Avenir
  • 1994 - Les choses rouges (short)
  • 1993 - Avant Après (short)
  • 1991 - Le jardin du Bonheur (short)
  • 1989 - La Mémoire d’un ange (short)
  • 1988 - Gilles Deleuze: what is the creative act? (short)