The Page Turner (French: La tourneuse de pages) is a 2006 French psychological thriller created and directed by professional viola player Denis Dercourt. It tells the story of the revenge exacted by the titular young woman against the concert pianist whose carelessness ended the former's dreams of becoming a pianist herself.
11-year-old Mélanie Prouvost undertakes an audition for the Paris Conservatoire, but her performance is disturbed when one of the jurors, distinguished pianist Ariane Fouchécourt, allows a fan to enter the room to get an autograph from her. Mélanie fumbles through the rest of the piece and leaves in tears, locking the piano and packing away her little Beethoven bust when she returns home, without a word to her parents.
Ten years later, Mélanie, as a young adult, is doing an internship for one of Paris' top lawyers, Jean Fouchécourt. When she finds out he is seeking a nanny for his son Tristan while he goes on an extended business trip, she volunteers. His wife turns out to be Ariane, who is now emotionally fragile and suffers stage fright as a result of a traffic accident two years earlier. She does not remember Mélanie, who wastes no time in insinuating herself into the graces of the whole family, while planning her revenge.
The film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Agony of the Feet: Mélanie's method of dealing with Laurent's sexual assault of her is to stab him through the foot with his own cello spike; this results in him being hospitalized.
- Attempted Rape: When Mélanie is alone in a room with the (married) cellist in Ariane's trio, Laurent, he begins to sexually assault her by groping her breasts. She puts an end to that by stabbing him through the foot with the spike of his cello.
- Best Served Cold: The poster trope for this film. Mélanie bides her time for a whole decade to exact a cold and thorough revenge on Ariane.
- Career-Ending Injury: Tristan is implied to have developed this as a result of Mélanie's bad influence.
- Disproportionate Retribution: As revenge for carelessly undermining Mélanie's audition to the Conservatoire, the latter deliberately ruins Ariane's career and her marriage, as well as crippling her son by encouraging him to play music that is too hard for him.
- Honey Trap: Mélanie makes herself into this for Ariane, manipulating her into falling in love with her, for vengeful purposes.
- Karma Houdini: Downplayed. Mélanie gets away with her Disproportionate Retribution, but she is last seen walking alone to the station and it is implied that she has also hurt her own prospects in life.
- Pay Evil unto Evil:
- Mélanie stabbing the lecherous Laurent through the foot with a cello spike is an example. However, the revenge she exacts against Ariane is not.
- Petty Childhood Grudge: Ariadne signed an autograph at eleven-year-old Mélanie's audition for the Paris Conservatoire, which threw her off and caused her to fail the audition. Despite her parents' assurances that they'd continue paying for her lessons if she failed, Mélanie quits and harbors a decade-long resentment against Ariadne. She then manipulates her way into Ariadne's home, encourages Ariadne to fall in love with her before abruptly abandoning her, ruins her marriage, damages her career (possibly permanently), and encourages her son to play music that is too advanced for him, ruining his promising piano career and (it's implied) permanently disabling him.
- Revenge by Proxy: Not content with ruining Ariane's life, Mélanie also targets Ariane's son Tristan, who has done nothing to her, by encouraging him to play music that is too hard for him, causing him to damage his arms.
- The Show Must Go On: Mélanie vanishes a few minutes before Ariane's trio is due to go on stage to perform for the American. Ariane, who is emotionally dependent on Mélanie, becomes inconsolable and wants to wait for her to reappear. In the end, an assistant is assigned to turn pages for Ariane instead. As a result, Ariane suffers terrible nerves and fumbles horribly through the whole performance, and the American responds by dropping the trio from their concert schedule.
- Villain Protagonist: Mélanie could be seen as one due to her revenge qualifying as Disproportionate Retribution.
- What Does She See in Him?: Ariane's friend, the violinist Virginie, is a lovely and empathetic person who cares for her friend; her husband, the cellist Laurent, is a slimy backstabber who sexually assaults Mélanie.
- Would Hurt a Child: Subverted. Mélanie appears to be trying to drown Tristan in the pool by holding his head underwater. Then she releases him and congratulates him on beating his own record for staying underwater. However, this disturbing gesture underscores the fact that she is deliberately harming him through her influence.