LE PERE DE MES ENFANTS
Cinematography by Pascal Auffray
Editing by Marion Monnier
Cast: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Alice de Lencquesaing, Alice Gautier, Eric Elmosnino
France, 2009, IFC Films, 35mm, color, 110 min.
French with English subtitles
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Mia Hansen-Løve’s beautiful film begins with a typical end-of-workday for film producer Grégoire Canvel, founder and head of Moon Films. With upbeat music supporting his “exciting” life, he is constantly on the phone (even two at one time), while driving out of Paris to his home in the countryside. In short, his workday/workweek never ends. Even with a beautiful wife (Sylvia) and three charming daughters (Billie, Valentine, Clemence), he simply can’t get away from his work. How could he? With a minimum of three productions in various stages, he has to be the consummate juggler constantly in contact with dozens of people. It quickly becomes apparent that his wife and oldest daughter are resentful of his job, no matter how many luxuries have come their way. His time is the ultimate luxury which he can’t provide.
Since he only wants to make quality films, not blockbusters, he often takes risks, many of which simply don’t pay off. It is soon apparent that he has debts, horrendous, business-threatening debts. He refuses to sell his catalog of nearly 50 critically acclaimed films (or, in too many cases, well-received box-office losers), but eventually we learn that even the catalog is already mortgaged. Attempts for a new line-of-credit fail. The federal tax department is freezing his assets. New owners of the lab which develops his negatives are demanding long overdue payments.
Finally, Grégoire finds a solution to his problems. The second half of the film, quite different in tone from the frenetic, upbeat, we-can-do-it first half, examines how Sylvia, Billie, Valentine, and Clemence all deal with this new life in their own ways. Secrets are uncovered, new people are met, and a change-of-place seems just the right thing to do. In many ways, the second half of the film contains the more interesting views about the resilience of human beings, no matter their age.
Writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve was cast in a small role in LATE AUGUST, EARLY SEPTEMBER by famed director Olivier Assayas when she was 17. Two years later she received an even smaller role in his LES DESTINÉES, but an even larger role in his personal life. After a two-year stint at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, she began writing for the legendary Cahiers du Cinéma before discovering what she really wanted to do – not act, but write screenplays and direct them. THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN is the second of her three critically acclaimed narrative features.