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An upper middle-class French family celebrates a birthday in a restaurant. In one evening and during one meal, family history, tensions, collective and separate grudges, delights, and memories both clash and coalesce. Written by
Eileen Berdon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
witty, funny, no vulgarity: all that a good comedy can (and must) be
The movie "Cuisines et Dépendances" (1993) had revealed Jean Pierre Bacri/Agnès Jaoui's original talent. Here, "un air de famille" (1996) which is once again an adaptation of a play written by the duo constitutes a kind of extension and especially a clear improvement for them. This movie made by Cédric Klapisch is very superior to the first quoted movie although "Cuisines et dépendances" is a worthy work. The meeting Bacri-Jaoui-Klapisch shines to delivers a stunning flick. It is difficult to tell because it is so rich and crowded with incident that it would take several pages to sum it up. So, to tell you the main reasons that justify the vision of this film, I will go to the essential.
3 things confer to the movie a strong appeal. First, the scriptwriters have the remarkable gift to make sparks fly from the single cue and to let what is left unsaid and the suggested leak out. Dialogs are also their best weapon to revamp the middle-class' image but also to harm the characters' meanness and faults. This last feature enables to Bacri and Jaoui to distinguish themselves in the French comedy. It is their recognizable stamp to disclose certain faults that we have inside us but which we really don't want to admit. In this way, it is quite easy to identify with the characters. We have a little "air de famille" with them.
But "un air de famille" is also worth for Klapisch's accurate making with an outstanding work on the lighting effects. The lighted café contrasts with the dark restaurant in the background of the scenery. Moreover, the split of the family amazingly answers to the dreary aspect of the scenery. Little by little, the film becomes a stifling In Camera tempered by a few sequences which relate childhood memories.
In another extent, there's another strong point from Klapisch: the directing of actors which is flawless and well studied. Personally I think it is a real treat to see Jean Pierre Bacri coming and going in his café, with his sullen look. Beside him, Catherine Frot is irresistible in her role of silly woman while Jean Pierre Darroussin is the sole stable character in the middle of this family which is slowly breaking up. He also tries to bring his support and comfort to the members.
"Un air de famille" is a smart and ferociously funny movie. Jean Pierre Bacri and Agnès Jaoui rank among the finest comical authors of the nineties and Cédric Klapisch can without problem join the group of the best French film-makers of his generation. Don't miss this movie which will give you another image of the French comedy.
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