FATHER OF MY CHILDREN
Film producer Grégoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) has it all - a wife and three delightful daughters he adores and a stimulating job that he's devoted to. Discovering new talent and developing projects that fit his conception of cinema - free and true to life - is what drives and fulfills him. Grégoire devotes almost all his time and energy to his work. On the surface he seems invincible, maintaining humour and charm as he juggles the never-ending demands of his company with his domestic responsibilities. But passion can also lead to obstinacy, and when Grégoire's reserves - financial and emotional - reach a tipping point, his wife Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) and children share in the repercussions.
Review by Louise Keller:
This delicate and beautiful film about the highs and lows of a close-knit family takes us on an emotional journey in which we experience joy, laughter, sorrow and contemplation. Filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve excels at involving us in miniscule details and makes them all matter. First and foremost, we get to care about the characters and in particular, Grégoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), the larger than life charismatic film producer and family man who puts as much care, love and optimism into watching his young daughters play acting as he does with a talented new filmmaker or genius director. Winner of Un Certain Regard's Special Jury Prize in Cannes 2009, the film is firmly grounded by its strong sense of place where we get a taste of Paris (where work is the focus), contrasted by the verdant countryside (when family excursions and tickling children take priority).
We are involved from the outset, as we become drawn into Paris life with its tree lined avenues, historic buildings, bustling café society, strolling pedestrians, bikes and cars. We become a fly-on-the-wall in Grégoire's busy life as he juggles big and small problems with patience, charm and sincerity. In his professional life he manages major movie projects which are both in progress and the planning stages (If you don't know what a producer does, this gives an insight). There are budget problems, temperamental actors, transport issues, difficult directors and funding challenges. Everyone wants a piece of him - the bankers, the accountants, the lawyers and staff - and soon we realise that he is in hot financial strife. But we learn plenty about his character - he is a man of principle who believes in people and their talents. And he loves his wife and children to distraction.
De Lencquesaing is perfectly cast as the film's charming protagonist, who lives as he loves - passionately. We see him talking non-stop on his mobile as he drives to and from Paris between his two lives. (Chiara Caselli is excellent as his wife Sylvia and Alice de Lencquesaing makes an impact in the film's second half, as Clémence, his teenage half-Italian daughter whose soul is undeniably French. As for the two little girls who play the daughters Valentine and Billie (Alice Gautier and Manelle Driss), suffice to say, they are simply adorable.
Like the sharp curves in the road that Grégoire navigates as he drives to and from Paris, the film makes an about turn, when bills are all that are left after a moment of madness. It is during a power blackout, when the sky seems at its blackest that things start to make sense under the stars and just as we are wondering where the story is going, music delivers the ending. It's effective use of the song (I won't spoil it by revealing its title), as is the use of several other covers including Lee Hazlewood's The Girls in Paris and an interesting version of Greensleeves. I like composer Christian Garcia's haunting theme, too.
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FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (M)
Le pere de mes enfants
CAST: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Alice de Lencquesaing, Alice Gautier, Manelle Driss, Eric Elmosnino
PRODUCER: Oliver Damian, Philippe Martin, David Thion
DIRECTOR: Mia Hansen-Løve
SCRIPT: Mia Hansen-Løve
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pascal Auffray
EDITOR: Marion Monnier
MUSIC: Not credited
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Set decoration: Mathieu Menut
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 26, 2010