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THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

Director: REMI BEZANÇON

FRANCE • 2008 SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • DIGITAL • 114 MIN


THE CLASSIC FRENCH FAMILY DRAMA GETS A MODERN REBOOT IN THIS UNSTOPPABLY ENTERTAINING SAGA OF LIFE, LOVE, DEATH, POP MUSIC AND AN ONGOING BATTLE TO CUT DOWN ON THE CIGGIES.

Inspired by Kevin Spacey’s opening salvo in American Beauty, director Remi Bezançon’s script operates on the concept of taking one key day in the past for each member of a typical suburban household, so building up a picture of what it is that makes them tick and drives them mad, both as individuals and a unit. We start in 1988 on the day that older brother Albert (Pio Marmai) leaves the nest, but everyone gets a turn in the spotlight, including punkette sis Fleur (Deborah François, The Page Turner herself), idling younger brother Raphaël (Marc-Andre Grondin), flaky, battle-weary mum Marie-Jeanne (Zabou Breitman) and long-suffering dad Robert (the wonderful Jacques Gamblin) — who still likes to think he’s a bit of a rebel, even though he’s middle-aged with three grown-up kids. By the time the story reaches the turn of the millennium, we feel we’ve lived through it with them ourselves.

Forget all your preconceptions about goatee-stroking French films which wouldn’t know a story if they found one in the pack of Gauloises, this is enthusiastically accessible fare, which, between guffaws, will have many quietly nodding in recognition. The way Bezançon’s writing effectively dovetails so many individuals and incidents is an enviable piece of craftsmanship, the cast are spot-on, and the music selections full of surprises (Bowie’s Time never sounded so good). This is a real treat, pure and simple. — Trevor Johnston.

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