From the opening titles, before even a word is spoken, you can tell this is a French film. From the simple shots of unmistakably French streets and the almost lethargic titles, it’s clear to see this movie is going to focus on substance and character over style.
Mia Hansen Løve’s second feature, following her 2007 debut, Everything is Forgiven, is a harrowing tale, inspired by the life and unexpected death of French film producer Humbert Balsan. The film follows Grégoire, a semi-successful producer of Art Cinema, who is struggling to keep all his projects afloat and his company out of the receiver’s hands. He’s a charming, confident man, but ultimately his devotion and dedication to his projects proves to be his downfall and his family are left to cope with the aftermath. It’s not only a thorough insight into European Art Cinema, but also a heartfelt examination of a family trying to cope with tragedy.
Technically this film doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s still an accomplished and absorbing piece of filmmaking. Fitting to the film’s tone, Hensen-Løve creates a slow, thoughtful pace for her movie, relying on strong performances over fancy cinematography and snappy editing. Static camera shots fill the films nearly 2 hour duration and the camera always ensures we get a good view of the most important thing on show, emotions. Shots and scenes are given the time they need (and deserve) to play out and thanks to the forceful acting from the cast, this is a tactic that leaves a lasting memory.
Led by a real-life father and daughter team, there is some acting of the finest quality on show. Louis-Do de Lencquesaing portrays the suave, loving side of family man Grégoire, whilst also displaying the troubled, fragile side of Grégoire the producer. Whilst his real-life daughter Alice De Lencquesaing puts in an enigmatically mesmerizing performance as his on screen daughter trying to find her place in the world. In fact all the actors involved in depicting the Canvel family, put in fantastic turns and as a unit it is with a fluid ease we picture them as a real family.
I only discovered after the film was over that Father of my Children was inspired by a true life story, which only added to the moving affect it already had on me. Although I have to say, after watching this film I never want to be a producer! It didn’t exactly show the behind the scenes of filmmaking to be a magical, wonderful place.