TIMES HAVE BEEN BETTER (Le Ciel sur la tête) is a polished little French 'made for television' film that holds its own on every level in the theater and on DVD. The issues it tackles are many, not just the main topic of coming out to a family. This is one of the better, more fully rounded examinations of the contemporary family in recent years. Based on a story and screenplay by Nicholas Mercier and directed by Régis Musset, this is a sophisticated comedy with some sensitive dramatic overtones presented by a fine cast and superb production values.
Jérémy (Arnaud Binard) is the wholly successful business executive son of Rosine (the amazingly fine actress Charlotte de Turckheim) and Guy (Bernard Le Coq) and big brother to Robin (Olivier Guéritée). When he pays a surprise visit to his home for an impromptu brunch, his family is in fine spirits until the reason for the surprise visit is made known: Jérémy announces to his parents that he is gay and though Robin has known this fact for some time and Rosine has suspected it, the news hits the family unit by storm. Jérémy returns to Paris to his partner Marc (Pierre Deny) and while relieved that he can now live his life in the open, Jérémy frets about the trauma to his family unit. Robin gathers the courage to rebel against going to college in favor of following his dream of being involved with cinema, Guy goes into a true depression, and Rosine decides to face the new life of her son, traveling to Paris to meet her son's home and friends and fresh outlook. While in Paris Rosine discovers her own suppressed needs and with the courage Jérémy has shown, she is able to return to her home an altered person.
The cast is very attractive and very fine and story flows so naturally, completely without cliché, that the movie becomes more a study of human behavior than of a routine 'coming out' movie. Well worth the viewer's time. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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