A young man’s return after an extended absence at college to the farm in Southwest France where he grew up provides the mechanism for melancholy reflection on the steady disappearance of traditional rural life in Amour d’enfance, another fine example of regional French filmmaking and a very accomplished feature debut by director Yves Caumon, who won the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo last year for his short Les Filles du mon pays. Rising star Mathieu Amalric plays Paul, the prodigal son who returns from the city to the family farm at the request of his mother. His father is terminally ill and his mother nudges them towards some form of reconciliation as the two men gently tiptoe around their true feelings. Back on home territory, Paul is swept up by old friendships and fondly remembered romances. He ponders what he has sacrificed by fleeing to the city and what he could gain from a second chance to be the son, friend or lover he wasn’t in the past. ‘I went looking for things that were right here,’ he concludes. But he must accept that he cannot go back.
Caumon shot the film near his home base and there is no faulting its potent sense of location. He clearly has an intimate understanding of the changing face of rural France and is a valuable addition to the current wave of French directors whose films reflect the landscape and issues of their specific part of the country. France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 102 min.