Will it Snow for Christmas

Director: Sandrine Veysset

A remarkable writing/directing debut from Sandrine Veysset, this stunning depiction of farm life in the south of France mercilessly explodes the sentimentality and picturesqueness of, say, Claude Berri’s films. In part autobiographically inspired, it focuses on the hard, frugal life of a mother (Dominique Reymond) and her lively brood of seven children: breakfasting, playing in the hayricks, taking the long walk to school, but mostly – and this includes the ‘babies’ – toiling in the fields. Cinematographer Helene Louvart keeps the camera close to the family’s field of vision, making the viewer a kind of house guest, witness to the intimate rituals of the family’s life – it takes some time to become familiar with the children’s names and their relationship with their older, emotionally distant step-brothers, and to realise that their mean, tyrannical father is keeping another ‘legitimate’ family some miles away.
There’s no music here to guide out attitude, merely ‘natural’ sound and the evidence before our eyes. Veysset concentrates on incident and detail (there’s a wonderfully moving Christmas dinner scene). And nurtures an extraordinary array of naturalistick performances. Her surprising cinematic maturity and clarity of vision allow her to express passionate feelings with impressive restraint, while her feminism is one of acute understanding, avoiding both censure of the Reymond character for continuing to love a man who makes her suffer to the point of suicide, and the demonisation of the father. Rest assured, however – this is far from a miserabilist film: scenes of warmth linger in the brain.

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