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Jean-Luc is an established gerontologist who can do no wrong; he runs a private clinic specialising in anti-ageing treatments. Honoured for his work in this field, he throws a garden party at his home. It is during this social event that his father suddenly reappears, back after a long exile. A physician, he had left decades earlier without any apparent reason to practice in Africa. He moves into his son's home for several days, phlegmatically observing everything with an enigmatic smile. He peruses Jean-Luc's life and environment with cruel objectivity. The arrival of this interloper father, who everyone thought had disappeared for good, shatters the family microcosm: Jean-Luc doesn't know how to take him, as if the memory - or the resentment - was nothing but lost time; his wife becomes fond of this highly unconventional man; after first refusing to deal with him, Jean-Luc's younger brother strikes up a modest bond with him. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Many French films over the decades have begun with a voice, with or without images, one of the characters, usually the protagonist, speaking directly to the audience. "Comment j'ai tué mon père" begins with a male voice speaking, over blank-screen credits, about the trials of late middle age. Since our only other info has been the film's first-person title, when the bearded speaker materializes we assume he's our protagonist. He's just young enough to have a living parent, maybe one about to die. When the camera pulls back to reveal the gerontologist listening, we see this secondary figure as a prop, a movie cliché. But a cut disillusions. The speaker will never reappear. It's the gerontologist's story.
Director Anne Fontaine's slight of hand continues throughout the film, so pervasively that it's difficult to go on here with giving away too much. It's far from only the gerontologist's story. At least three characters, not counting the opening speaker above, carry the point of view. Yet it's not "Rashomon." Perhaps appropriate in a film about aging, with a gerontologist dead center, the time line seldom wavers.
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