In France, before WWI. As every Sunday, an old painter living in the country is visited by his son Gonzague, coming with his wife and his three children. Then his daugther Irene arrives. ... See full summary »
In France, before WWI. As every Sunday, an old painter living in the country is visited by his son Gonzague, coming with his wife and his three children. Then his daugther Irene arrives. She is always in a hurry, she lives alone and does not come so often... An intimist chronicle in which what is not shown, what is guessed, is more important than how it looks, dealing with what each character expects of life. Written by
A painterly portrait of an aging painter and his family
In pre-WWI France Monsieur Ladmiral prepares for the day in his large country house near Paris. It is Sunday, the day his son Gonzague and family frequently visit him. Gonzague arrives by train with his wife and three children - two young sons and a daughter. Monsieur Ladmiral walks to the station to meet them. Well actually he only makes it about half way there when he meets the family walking toward his house. Thus we are introduced to one of the themes - how Ladmiral deals with getting older (in this case by denying that he can't walk as fast as he used to).
On this particular Sunday Ladmiral is also treated to a rare visit by his daughter Irène. She arrives by car and her breezy, outgoing personality dominates. The children take to her, but the reactions of the rest of the family are much more complex. Gonzague has been the dutiful son who has done what was expected of him while Irène is clearly a bit of a free spirit. But equally as clear is that Ladmiral favors his daughter for her determination to live life on her own terms and is disappointed that his son has not been more aggressive.
It is amazing how much we come to understand the dynamics of this family from observing them during this one day. Typical of the hints we get is Gonzague's comment, in response to the excitement over Irène's car, that "I had children and not a car." By the end you feel that you can extrapolate backward in time to the essential history of this family.
Particularly poignant are the musing of the old man himself. He has been a painter of some repute and respect, but feels perhaps that he took too modest a path in his work, that he could have been more experimental and made more significant contributions. Is he wishing that he had been more like Irène than Gonzague, and that is why he fancies his daughter?
The pacing is slow and the filming is lush. You are left with a certain wistfulness. This may evoke memories to visits to your own grandparents.
The focus in on the personalities and the undercurrents of conflicted feelings that exist in all families.
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