Delphine de Vigan
You might know French writer Delphine de Vigan from her psychological thriller, Based on a True Story. It had a command of ambiguity and suspense that’s in short supply in her latest. Loyalties springs from an intriguing premise: Helene, a schoolteacher, has become concerned about two students, Theo and Mathis, both 12. The boys are inseparable; they’re also in deep trouble, drinking alcohol every day to cope with abusive family situations. As the extent of their misery and dysfunction unfurls, we learn that Helene also has severe trauma in her past. Unfortunately, the dark psychology here is too schematic and simplified, and every loose end is tied up with little room for ambivalence or depth. And de Vigan’s flashes of literary brilliance don’t make up for the lack of subtlety.