This one reminds me a little of Lauren Cantet's Time Out. Like that film, it features a main character who has cast themselves adrift from the rules of society. We are absorbed in a suspenseful vigil, awaiting the catastrophe their wandering souls are likely to encounter.
The premise of Stolen Holidays is simple, credible, and compelling: a doting grandmother decides to take her grandchildren on an extended holiday without permission or consent from their parents. As their illicit holiday extends further and further, the grandmother must evade the increasingly urgent efforts of the parents to get their children back.
Bernadette Lafont is excellent as the enigmatic grandmother. Her reasons for the escapade are never made entirely clear, but we sense the vacuum left in her life from retiring as a schoolteacher, and we readily understand her hunger for more exciting prospects.
Also excellent is Adele Csech as the older granddaughter Marine. She subtly portrays the young woman's alternate delight and annoyance at her grandmother's guardianship, and then her slowly dawning realization that something is seriously wrong.
The photography in this movie is excellent, treating us to views of some gorgeous vacation spots. But it is also extremely adept at implying the darker themes of the story, beginning with the evocative shots of the characters driving behind a lumber-carrying truck. One particularly astonishing shot reveals the grandmother sitting on the balcony at night, while the children play indoors behind closed blinds. The children press against the blinds and call to the grandmother, their silhouettes looking strange and ghostly.
This film explores the idea of how the elderly feed upon the exuberance of the young, hoping to enliven their own lives. A very fine, universal, beautiful film!
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