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Pere et Fils

Director: Michel Boujenah

FRANCE/CANADA| 2003| FRENCH W/ENGLISH SUBTITLES| COLOUR| 98 MINS


Pere et fils is full of joi de vivre, a marvellous, buoyant revelation from a first time director who comes to the project with an actors sensitivity to characterise emotions. Michel Boujenah tackles sombre topics-a family’s fragmentation and fear of death-with great vivacity. But this charming, light hearted work does not shrink from seriousness and Boujenah deftly handles the rhythm and pacingof both humour and drama.
When seventy-year old Leo (the incomparable Philippe Noiret) is hospitalised for a minor complaint, he is delighted to find his three grown sons take the trouble to visit him. Two of them harbour a deep-seatedloathing for one another and Leo, with delightfully innocent deviousness, hatches a scheme to resolve their estrangement. With excellent, precise performances all round, the film very much belongs to the actors – including Boujenah’s orchestration of the fine character work from behind the camera – and the tight ensemble functions as a well oiled unit. Noiret in particular is astonishing, skating the line between frailty and self interest. He is willing to go to enormous lengths to get what he wants, but his desire for reconciliation with his sons is genuine and moving. The younger generation, whose immaturity occasionally returns in the presence of their father and each other, contributes some great comic moments, but ultimately the film is more about touching our sympathies. While it makes us laugh as we watch it, it lingers as an intimate snapshot of family relations.

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