Raymond Depardon’s documentary follows a judge who must decide whether psychiatric hospital patients can be allowed back into society

A young woman stares across a table at the judge who is reviewing her case. Her gaze is both searingly intense and curiously blank. Holding herself preternaturally still, muscles tensed against the turmoil of emotions, she pleads to see the two-year-old daughter who has been removed from her care. “Not all the time, I accept that. But just to change her diaper, to love her.” If there’s a more achingly sad moment in any film of the 2017 Cannes film festival, it’s hard to imagine what it could be. For 12 Jours, veteran documentarian Raymond Depardon (Modern Life, Journal de France) turns his lens on to the desperate, broken souls of the patients who have been involuntarily committed into the care of a Lyon psychiatric institution.

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