Fifteen years after leaving Corsica, a widow and her two teenage daughters spending the summer there must soon face their past.

A widow working for a bourgeois Parisian couple, Khédidja (Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, César for best supporting actress for The Fracture, Catherine Corsini’s previous film) has never revealed to her daughters Jessica (Suzy Bemba), 18, and Farah ( Esther Gohourou), 15 years old, why she left Corsica shortly after the birth of the youngest. When Sylvia (Viriginie Ledoyen) and Marc (Denis Podalydès) offer to look after their children during their vacation in Corsica, she seizes the opportunity to return there with her daughters.

Khédidja soon reconnects with Marc-Andria (Cédric Appietto), who knew Jessica and Farah’s father well, but refuses to contact her ex-mother-in-law (Marie-Ange Geronimi) whom her daughters believe is dead. Meanwhile, Jessica, a wise science student, begins an affair with the sassy Gaïa (Lomane Dietrich), Marc’s daughter, born from a first union. As for the fierce Farah, she revolves around Orso (Harold Orsoni), a whimsical guardian of the beach.

Last year, The Return, by Catherine Corsini, almost did not end up in competition at Cannes. Selected, rejected, reselected, the film, luminous, delicate and sensual, had created controversy due to suspicions of harassment concerning the filmmaker and two technicians, and because of a masturbation scene involving two minor actors added during filming . The scene, filmed in close-up, without nudity or physical contact, was cut during editing.

Written with Naïla Guiguet, a French screenwriter born to a Senegalese mother and a Corsican father who was inspired by her own memories, The Return evokes in a minor way La belle saison (2015), where Catherine Corsini, who drew on her own experiences, recounted a love story between two women from different backgrounds. Although the scenes of a sexual nature are more modest, they are no less devoid of passion.

If Guiguet and Corsini do not avoid the clichés of an apprenticeship story set against the backdrop of a summer vacation, they do, however, create a gripping family drama tinged with relevant reflection with a social flavor. Gently excoriating the well-off couple, condescending although benevolent, they deal with sensitivity – and sometimes even with a few touches of humor – of determinism, heredity and racism.

Assisted in photography by Jeanne Lapoirie (Benedetta, by Paul Verhoeven), Catherine Corsini takes advantage of the landscapes of the Isle of Beauty without getting lost unnecessarily in contemplation or postcards. Intimate, attentive, its staging beautifully highlights the talent and complicity of the magnificent female trio to which Esther Gohourou brings spice.