Sunday, 6 April 2014

Review - Our Children (2012 - Dir. Joachim Lafosse)

Now it could be said that normally I watch a right load of rubbish: B-movies, low budget horror and other such cult offerings (Beastmaster 2:Through the Portal of Time springs to mind). So it's a bit of a shock when I actually watch a proper film. And Émilie Dequenne's entry in the FA Cup of Actors is indeed a proper film.

Our Children tells the story of Murielle (Émilie Dequenne), a lady who meets a young gentleman, Mounir (Tahar Rahim) and they fall in love. They have a family and things are looking rosy. Murielle could not want for anything as they move in with Mounir's adopted father, a rich doctor by the name of Andre Pinget (Niels Arestrup) who puts a roof over their heads and purchases anything they need. Well anything they need apart from their independence...

Lets start this review by saying how fantastic Émilie Dequenne is. In every film that I've seen her in she's played very different characters. And she's been great in every part. In this film the standout shot is a very lengthy shot of her in a car driving along listening to some music and having a little sing-a-long. But as she drives the viewer is treated (?) to her visibly crumbling emotionally. It's a cracking bit of acting. She's also not afraid to look haggard and not at all like your typical movie star. In the later scenes she looks really poorly and a complete mess. I don't know how they achieved the look but it's very impressive considering how gorgeous she looks in Brotherhood of the Wolf. She should be a tad on the aggrieved side that she hasn't got top billing. The other two guys are before her in the credits and yet she completely owns this film.

The film is shot in a Peeping Tom style, the camera always lurking about being doors, peeking in to watch the family. The director has his reasons for this choice (to give the feeling that they are always being watched) and I can see how that works. For me, I felt as though I was privy to a side of family life that I wouldn't normally get to see, as if they had invited me into their home, and I felt quite privileged despite what happens in the latter stages.

One of the achievements of the film is how it shows the passing of time through its scene transitions. Whether it's a piece of dialogue or a visual, the film quickly dashes through the first part of the couple's life together and gets to the meat of the story. It's all rather cleverly done.

The theme of the film is the importance of independence. Murielle has everything that she could materially want (although saying that I didn't see a huge Scalextric knocking about anywhere). Yet she's a complete mental wreck due to her lack of autonomy. When they try to break away from Pinget he doesn't exactly behave in a caring manner and manipulates them into staying. Not that he's a traditional evil villain, but he is quite controlling. I can see completely how she falls apart. It would drive me mad not having my independence. To have some wealthy benefactor buying me meals at swanky restaurants, huge stereos, my own private cinema, posh cereal bars and an unlimited supply of Ginsters just doesn't appeal. (Well, okay, maybe if it was Scarlett Johansson I may swallow my pride and eat all of those gorgeous pasties. Grudgingly.)

Our Children is a powerful film that is extremely well made. Émilie Dequenne is a force to be reckoned with and on this form is going to be hard to beat. Nathan Fillion didn't have much of a chance against her (unless Serenity had been his random choice) and so he's knocked out with the pretty decent film Slither. (If he'd been against anyone else it would have probably been enough to see him through to the next round.) As things stand though, he's out and Dequenne will go on to face the winner of the Fontaine vs. Crampton match.

If you like this you could also try:
Sister, Rosetta.

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