Mon Pere est Ingenieur

Director: Robert Guediguian


The latest of Robert Guediguian’s Marseilles-set ensemble pieces sees his repertory company in top form, in a story that elegantly combines mystery, melodrama, religious imagery and Guediguian’s customary strain of socialist-humanist politics. The director’s perennial muse Ariane Ascaride plays Natacha, a dedicated paediatrician who one dayinexplicably falls into a catatonic trance. Her bewildered parents call on her former boyfriend Jeremie (Jean-Pierre Darrousin), a doctor and committed health campaigner, who moves into Natacha’s flat and begins to piece together the mysteries of her troubled life.
A constantly surprising narrative sees Guediguian at his most narratively playful, counterpointing Jeremie’s investigation and flashbacks to Natacha’s recent past, with a wry and rather Brechtian re-interpretation of the Nativity story. Ascaride provides a typically powerful and subtle presence, especially when embodying Natacha’s angry silences, but the film is also a tour de force for Darrousin, who is increasingly a force to be reckoned with among French actors. Guediguian’s continuing passion in flying the flag for the old-fashioned affirmative values of French socialist drama makes him a true inheritor of the Jean Renoir legacy, and Mon Pere est Ingenieur is in turn moving, angry and buoyantly life-affirming.

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