I saw this film at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
La Vie avec mon père is the second feature film from director and co-writer Sébastien Rose. The film recently won the Audience Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. In Rose's own words, the movie is about "patrimony and brotherhood, and what we leave behind when we die." La Vie avec mon père follows two brothers, Patrick (David La Haye), a high-powered executive at a pharmaceutical company, and Paul (Paul Ahmarani) a writer who seems to spend most of his time slacking off and selling what ever drugs he can steal from his brother. The reappearance of their famous writer father François (Raymond Bouchard) in their life soon throws everything into turmoil. For various reasons, all three of them, along with Paul's free-spirited girlfriend Sylvie (Hélène Florent) are soon thrown together in François' dilapidated house and they are forced to examine their feelings and relationships.
La Vie avec mon père walks the line between comedy and drama, but walks it well. François is played to great effect by Raymond Bouchard, who has to portray an aging lothario who must come to terms with his failing body. Both David La Haye and Paul Ahmarani are good at playing the brothers who are polar opposites, but who still ultimately share a love for their father and each other. And Hélène Florent is wonderful as Paul's girlfriend, who seems to know each other characters better than they know themselves. The story is very good and heartfelt, and there are a lot of touching moments that don't cross the boundary of being overly sentimental.
Director Sébastien Rose did a Q&A session after the film: - As a filmmaker, he prefers to asks questions, not give answers in his films.
The house used in the film is in Outremont, in Montreal. Rose spotted
the house while filming his first feature, but couldn't do anything with it given the budget he had at the time. The house had to be seriously distressed to make it fit in this film.
The movie was released in Quebec last spring, and now they are taking
it on the road; they've been to the Czech Republic, and plan to go to Belgium.
The film is not autobiographical for Rose, but is personal in its
style and motifs. The film is very personal for the other co-writer, Stéfanie Lasnier.
Any similarities to Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions)
is unintentional. They were actually filming and watching the Oscars on a monitor when The Barbarian Invasions won the foreign film Oscar. Rose said that the whole question of fathers and their legacy is in the air, that the whole issue of identity in Quebec makes the question of the father very important.
Patrick's wife in the story is not really very important; she is more
just a way to characterize Patrick. The story is really about the two sons coping with the return of their father in their lives. The dogs that live in François house are also just a way to characterize Paul and François, that they are both cool and eccentric.
Sylvie is a portrayal of all women, or the ideal woman, and in fact
most of the male characters see her in that way.
The house in the film represents the body of the father. When the
pipes burst and water is flowing everywhere, it suggests the decay of the body.
It was important to show François losing his dignity; Rose said it is
the ultimate expression of death.
Rose had operatic arias in mind for François, as his characters is
bigger than life. But personally, he felt there was perhaps too much music in the film. Originally, when editing, he didn't have any music, to make sure the scenes worked on their own.
Rose feels that he's done with the family question, and that his next
film will be more poetical and political, and bigger in the sense that it will be about more than a small circle of three characters.
The lighting was very specific to the mood in the film; before
Christmas, the lighting is very warm and yellow; after Christmas, it becomes more white and more realistic, like the white light at the end of the tunnel.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?