THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (LE PERE DE MES ENFANTS).
Starring Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Alice de Lencquesaing and Alice Gautier. Directed by Mia Hansen-Love. Rated M (mature themes). 106 minutes.
An impressive film from a director still in her 20s. A film about family and relationships but also a film about the film industry.
The first part focuses on Gregoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), a very busy producer. In fact, the first ten minutes show him making phone call after phone call on his mobile phone, as he leaves the building, walks along the street, finds his car, drives (speedily and without seat belt), the camera tracking him. (Perhaps this is a record for showing mobile phone use in cinema – an opening that would have been impossible twenty years earlier.). He does get pulled up by the police!
At his country home, he has a loving wife, Sylvia (Chiara Caselli), and three daughters, the younger two devoted to their father, the young teenager (de Lenquesaing's daughter, Alicia) moody and reclusive. There are some exuberant family sequences, but the phone is never far away.
When tragedy strikes the family, the film moves attention to the wife and her skills in handling the crisis in the film company. She shows a great deal of courage and energy trying to save the business side of the company.
The last part of the film shifts to Clemence, the older daughter, and how she handles the situation and her feelings – and the possibility that she will move into the film industry.
In her early career, the director was helped by Humbert Balsan, an energetic producer who, with extreme good will towards film-makers, especially from countries whose industries were developing, over-extended himself and took his own life in 2005. The film serves as a tribute to him, an acknowledgement of gratitude and an insight into the pressures of the film business, the continual need for money and trying to deal delicately and diplomatically with the moods and performances in real life but artistic types. This makes for an interesting and satisfying film.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Releases August 26 2010.