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Father of My Children | Review

Those Who Are Left Behind: Hansen-Løve Displays Those Who Really Suffer For Art.

Working with notions of guilt complex and the overbearing sense of responsibility from not one, but two unique perspectives, Mia Hansen-Løve’s sophomore feature confidently switches the perspective by moving the film’s starting point at the midway portion of the film. Following her debut film, All is Forgiven which also features a fractured family, Le Père de mes enfants (Father of My Children) focuses on how a wife and three daughters cope with the fact that they’ve unwilling become full fledged card caring members in the loss, grief and mourning departments – and remarkably the screenplay brings them elsewhere.

Also acting as an interesting vantage point in the business of making movies, this is unfortunately inspired by real life events of producer Hubert Balsan’s suicide, a figure that was initially interested in producing Hansen-Løve’s first film and whose last credit was working as a co-producer on Lars von Trier’s Manderlay. Before this becomes a commentary about how one loses sight of what is important and can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel, essentially this is a film about managing one’s professional and personal life. It is made more difficult to manage being an indie film producer is 24/7, cellphone is umbilically attached to a husband, father whose got creditors looking to swallow up his library of titles. When suicide enters Gregoire’s consciousness (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), viewers are left with the final hours of his life. His impulse decision of grave consequences is shrouded in mystery, and Hansen-Løve is thankfully not interested in those details but instead, the ramifications of the act on loved ones.

After the ‘minus one’ midway point, Le Père de mes enfants doesn’t bother sending the widow/mother (Chiara Caselli) backtracking. The family have perhaps learned to become efficient from all the cues of living with the stressed out hubby/father and this is why Hansen-Løve can get away with this notion that the eldest daughter (real-life daughter of de Lencquesaing) would become an admirer of difficult, auteur films from her father’s trove of titles. By focusing on slice of life, closing the books on a business and the family as a unit, there is a lack of emotional weight which may not bring viewers into tissue territory, but the softly provided emotional sincerity and sensibility distinguishably gives this film an air of authenticity. This is Euro cinema accessible to world audiences.

Reviewed at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Un Certain Regard Section.

110 Mins. May, 17th, 2009

Rating 3 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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