Winner of a special Jury Prize at Cannes 2009, Mia Hansen-Love’s The Father of My Children is a film about the business of filmmaking, but also the drama of a loving family. With its que sera, sera philosophy, it’s a lovely film in the French manner: quiet with moments of great tenderness, obvious love of family. Grégoire Canvelis is the glue that holds the indy film production company Moon Films together. This is increasingly difficult as debts mount, as bankers are more bottom-line oriented, and directors are consumed with their ‘artistic vision’ to the detriment of budget. I’ve read that the film is loosely based on the life (and death) of a French producer by the name of Humbert Balsam.
This is a flawlessly acted film, from Grégoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), his wife Sylvia (Chiara Caselli). The three daughters are just wonderful as well: the actors playing the two youngest (Valentine and Billie) are adorable. Alice de Lencquesaing plays the eldest daughter (Clemence) and she is fabulous. She happens to be the real life daughter of the lead actor – explaining their chemistry together.
In the middle of the film there’s an abrupt and shocking game changer, and the focus of the film shifts to Sylvia. We learn more (as does Clemence) about Gregoire. Perceptions change as new revelations need to be processed. The family dynamics are still to a great extent the films focus and backbone of the story. Quite a film from the young actress-director, only her second feature. Looking for many more.