This is an affecting story about a father's attempts to mend the breaches in the relationship between himself and his 10-year-old daughter. Emmanuel (Sami Frey) is the father of Elise (Mara... See full summary »
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This is an affecting story about a father's attempts to mend the breaches in the relationship between himself and his 10-year-old daughter. Emmanuel (Sami Frey) is the father of Elise (Mara Goyet) by his first marriage, and the stepfather of an older daughter by his second marriage. He tries to make the best of both family relationships by taking off to visit his young daughter on the weekends, but that only makes his new family a little jealous - especially his stepdaughter. She herself is confused about her own relationship with him. After a particularly emotional send-off one weekend, Emmanuel and Elise take a trip from the south of France into Spain, working on a film project. Through a series of round-about conversations, Emmanuel manages to open up a few channels of communication with Elise - channels that expand even wider when he uses the technique of talking into her video camera to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise would have remained hidden. Written by
Jacques Doillon has made his name crafting affecting and realistic dramas of which "La Vie de Famille" is a good example. Produced on a modest budget, with simple production values the film is intelligent and affecting. The film follows a complicated and modern 'family'. Emmanuel is in his late 40's and in his second marriage. He lives with his new wife Mara and her daughter Natacha. However he is still linked to his first marriage by his young daughter Elise, with whom he struggles to spend time. Hi life is marred however by conflict with his first wife and his step daughter. As played by Sami Frey, Emmanuel is a contemporary father who is not a constant presence in his daughter's life. This is a constant source of guilt for him. As played by Mara Goyet, 11 year old Elise is a simple and happy young girl who does not understand the complexities of her family life. In an early appearance Juliette Binoche is excellent as the fiery and difficult teenage step daughter. Doillon's film is well worth the investment of time and should have been seen by a much wider audience.
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