French films review - March 2019

A critical eye on the latest ciné releases

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A House by the Sea,Robert Guédiguian; 107 mins

Veteran filmmaker Guédiguian has crafted a long CV featuring intimate portraits of everyday tales from southern France. He has a preferred coterie of actors, each possessed of the kind of hangdog expression that evokes a less-than-breezy outlook and a tortured soul.

These include Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin (pictured above) and Gérard Meylan, who all feature in this latest slice-of-life set in a small coastal village near Marseille.

They play siblings reconvened at the family home overlooking the sea (this film is called La Villa in French), where they are to decide the fate of their ailing elderly father’s simple restaurant.

Old wounds between them soon open up and it is clear there are plenty of secrets to be unveiled before sibling harmony can be obtained.

There are some social themes woven into the story – a migrant boat is found crashed on the rocks below and some children are found living in the bushes; and the struggles of the family eatery are told through the prism of economic unrest and the erosion of community spirit, as embodied by their father. These elements are somewhat crowbarred into the tale but offer some gravitas.

This is an enjoyable film that proves that even when the sun shines every day, you can’t choose your family...

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