Saturday, May 29, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Father of My Children

The Father of My Children
Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
Released May 28, 2010

This is the kind of film where the title is telling. The story of a distraught movie producer facing financial ruin compounded by his continuous ill-advised investments wouldn’t inherently appear to be about a father of any children. That’s exactly the point, however, since Grégoire neglects his children by constantly overworking and devoting the kind of attention he should to his family to his work. When he’s with his kids and not busy taking a phone call, Grégoire does show them enormous love and enthusiasm. Only his wife and his eldest daughter comprehend the imbalance of where he spends the majority of his time, and his two young daughters run to embrace him every time he comes home after a long stretch away.

“The Father of My Children” is a movie just as much about a love of filmmaking as it is about a less than perfect family unit. Grégoire is clearly a film buff whose love for the art of cinema has driven him to his chosen profession. His eldest daughter also exhibits a passion for classic film that evidently stems from her father’s influence. Grégoire also delights in filling in background information for one of his younger daughters when she poses a question during a family vacation. It’s best to leave the major plot elements of the film undiscussed for fear of spoiling the film, but this is a marvelously effective, occasionally heartwarming and more often heart-wrenching drama.

At the core of “The Father of My Children” is a wonderful and intimate cast led by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as workaholic Grégoire, who does a magnificent job of expressing the struggle between trying to devote himself to his job and to his family. It’s not until Grégoire has reached an unrecoverable point that he realizes quite what he’s gotten himself into, and that discovery is particularly difficult and well-executed. The members of his filmic family are equally compelling. Chiara Caselli is fierce and strong-willed as his wife Sylvia, and Louis-Do’s real-life daughter Alice impresses as his eldest and most perceptive child. Alice Gautier and Manelle Driss also perform commendably in their debut film roles as the youngest of Grégoire’s children. This is a personal story that stresses the importance of family, and the filmmaking is just as superb. After a clever and vivid opening sequence followed by Grégoire’s lengthy trek to make it home to his family, the film becomes less buoyant and more dramatic as it goes on but remains just as interesting and powerful.


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