Nadia Coupeau, dite Nana (1999) from ICMS

"Nadia Coupeau, dite Nana" is a French TV-movie in two parts. It is based on Emile Zola's book Nana, but situated in the present and mainly in Brussels. Right at the beginning of the movie Nana gets raped, becomes pregnant and keeps the child against the wishes of the headmistress of the high school she attends. This woman has it in for Nana from that moment on and sees to it that Nana's child is taken away from her. When Nana finds out what the woman did, she gives her a good beating. From that moment on she tries everything to get her child back and after a couple of years she finally manages to do so and in the end (sob, tear) she also finds a guy whom she loves deeply and also loves her very much.

Now what is good about this flick? Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin and half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, is excellent as the naive, simple and impulsive Nadia Coupeau, aka Nana. More important, four actresses take their clothes off, with a special mention for Doillon, who shows that she is as uninhibited as her mother was in the Seventies. The other actresses are Linda Bouhenni (as Nana's best friend Zoe) in a short, practically dark, scene, Assumpta Serna as the wife of a politician who beds a journalist, and someone named Yssa whom Nana finds in bed with her boyfriend, also in a rather dark scene.

What's not to like about this film ? The script seems written by someone who doesn't know much about "the system" in Belgium. First Nana's child gets taken away for something that isn't considered such a big deal here (although not an example to follow), just like that, without even a proper hearing by the authorities. The child didn't suffer from malnutrition and she didn't beat the youngster. In fact, Nana was a very loving mother who would do anything for her child. She only left the child unattended for an hour at night for a couple of times. I don't know about other countries, but in this country they don't take away a child from a loving mother for that.

Then, after she beats up the headmistress, she goes on the run from the police (who drive a Belgian police car with French license plates, figure that). At some stage during the movie Nana has a big success as a model for a jeans brand and plenty of money is coming in. Then her agent gets her a top lawyer who must get her child back. Top lawyer, my ass. Nana was tried for the attack in absentia, so she is entitled to a new trial here. In the movie there were no witnesses to the beating, so it is Nana's word against that of the headmistress. No lawyer in this country is going to let his client confess to that beating, thereby jeopardizing even more his clients' chances to get her child back. There is no bonus for it here, the system doesn't hug you for doing the right thing. With a confession a lawyer doesn't have any space left to maneuver and you're almost certain to get a heavier punishment than when you don't own up (unless it's crystal clear to the court that you did it, which wasn't the case here).

Furthermore Nana's big love is a Belgian army officer on a mission in Kosovo. Nothing wrong with that one might say. No indeed, except that he's wearing a light khaki old-style uniform that hasn't been in use about five years now. The color of the current uniforms of the Belgian army is dark green, like those of their American colleagues. Let me also add that the DP was saving permanently on electricity, and that the camera work is only average. All in all I watched excellent actors in a sloppy, below-average film, presented on a DVD which is grainy in some parts. By the way, the exact running time is 177 minutes and not the 204 minutes indicated on the DVD case.

Even at that it is too long.

not yet available on region 1 DVD


  • Linda Bouhenni, dark, but frontal nudity.
  • Assumpta Serna, breast exposure.
  • Yssa, fully nude with breasts, bum, and maybe a hint of pubes.
  • Lou Doillon, topless and full frontal nudity.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary. There are now 21 votes for this in the IMDb resulting in an overall score of 6.8/10. That's a fairly high score for this below-average TV drama, in fact high enough for me to become suspicious. My suspicion seems only confirmed when you consider that of those 21 voters no one scored it lower than 6 with most voters giving it 7 or more! Are you thinking what I am thinking or is this just a coincidence?


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

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