Connect with us
Christine Angot Une famille Review


Une Famille | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

Une Famille | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

A Letter to Daddy: Angot Continues Confrontation of Incest

Christine Angot Une famille ReviewIn short, there is no way to rate a film like Une Famille, the debut documentary feature from celebrated writer Christine Angot. It is an uncomfortable confrontation with both the surviving family members who were affected by her sexual abuse at the hands of her father and a castigation of the cultural response to three decades of her vocalization about the abuse through her publications and interactions with the news media. As such, it is also a history of a progression in breaking down the barriers for victims of an eternally taboo topic at the cost of being continually re-victimized for her crusade.

Outside of France, Angot may be best known for writing two recent Claire Denis films, including 2017’s Let the Sunshine In (read review) and 2022’s Both Sides of the Blade (read review), based on her own novel. But in France, Angot has been an outspoken, controversial figure since the publication of her 1999 novel, Incest, described as an auto fictional account of the abuse she suffered at hands of her father from the age of thirteen into her twenties. Her father is now dead, and the impetus for Angot’s reexamination is a trip to her father’s home in Strasbourg, where her step-mother and half siblings remain, their relationships estranged mostly due to their trenchant ambivalence towards what happened to Christine.

Angot opens her documentary with a moment of fury, tracking down her step-mother’s new home and demanding entry with her camera crew to finally speak of unspoken things. What follows is a rather uncomfortable exchange as the elder woman tries to explain her perspective whilst Angot forcefully demands recognition of her father’s actions and acknowledgment of the pain he wrought. It’s curious to listen to this woman, who begins to share her stance, seeing as she never knew her husband to be anything other than a good man. Angot’s original publication arrived while he was suffering from dementia—-she argues there was no way to get his side of the story, so her hands are tied as regards the gale force energy that is Christine. The curious part is how the somewhat logical conversation is later followed by charges being filed against her step-daughter.

Christine Angot Une famille Review

Several others are interviewed about this period of her life, from her first husband, who was privy to an act of abuse by her father when she was twenty, her current partner, and an emotional conversation with her now adult daughter. Angot includes various heated interview snippets which showcase how demeaning the French news media was towards Angot, including with threats of violence, a disregard which would seem unheard of today. But Christine is abrasive. Christine is a woman. And Christine is not a ‘good victim.’ Some of her criticism stems from how she has approached other victims of incest, her aggression courting charges of victim becoming victimizer. But in a world where we are expected to deal with trauma and move on (Dr. Joyce Brothers’ tersely advised a victim of sexual assault to “get over it”), someone like Angot is a thorn festering in the cultural conversation. There are some events which we cannot get over, but how do we diminish their power unless we speak openly and honestly? Honesty means dealing with anger and aggression, emotions which do not simply lie dormant after we lull them to sleep.

Like her overall body of work, the sardonically titled Une Famille is a way to both revive and continue her conversation in a broader medium. She, whose intelligence and attitude feels akin to someone like Camille Paglia, presents the troubling reality of how catharsis is not eternal—especially if those around her only listen when she screams, and then dismiss her for being loud.

Reviewed on February 21st at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival – Encounters section. 82 mins.

[Disclaimer: This is one of the few reviews where we hesitated to assign a score to the film… but as our protocol requests it, here it is.]


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

Click to comment

More in Reviews

To Top