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« Je déteste les enfants des autres » is one of those « group films » French cinema is fond of and whose father-founder is Claude Sautet with his iconic « Vincent, François, Paul et les autres »
The group in question here consists of Cécile, who takes a vacation in the company of Paolo, her sensitive son, and Rose, her younger daughter (a dreadful pain in the neck) but without her husband she can't put up with any longer. At the beginning of the story she joins three friends who have rented a house in Provence: Pénélope, a single woman unable to keep a man in her life, accompanied by her offspring (Janis,her lazy teenage son and Sataya, his half-sister) and Fred & Louise, a self-proclaimed ideal couple with three kids: Luna, Colombe (a wily spoilt little girl) and Ange, their newborn baby.
To complicate matters, another family turns up unexpectedly, composed of Véro, Cécile's employer, whom she had invited to come never thinking she would, her husband Jean-Mi, their sons Raphaël and Rémy and their daughter Madeleine. To say nothing of the more sporadic but upsetting presence of another of Cécile's friends, the sex bomb Sofia, as well as of Samir, the owner of the rented house posing as the repairman.
With so many people involved how could things not go awry? And they do go wrong, illustrating to perfection the old saying "Too many cooks spoil the broth".
This is Anne Fassio's first feature-length film and for sure not a masterpiece. But it is no flop either, as too many people tend to say. First, forget the Claude Sautet reference: it is overwhelming and Fassio never claims to play in the same league. Second, do not go and see this film if you fancy a summer comedy, for Anne Fassio is not too good at making the spectator laugh. Most of her gags misfire, except maybe during the sequence of Cecile's employer's inopportune visit with all the characters uniting their efforts to stop her from taking root. But neither Fred's rowing lessons, nor sexpot Sofia's antics or Samir's double game are as funny as they could be.
On the other hand, if you approach the film from a different, more serious angle, it starts becoming interesting. The characters and their behaviors are well enough studied, especially Fred and Louise's fake ideal couple, whose flaws are made more and more apparent. Moreover, the theme of children's education methods as a bone of contention between people is examined with relevance. And Fassio is at her best by the end of the film when tragedy insinuates itself into what seemed to be a mere psychological comedy.
The acting is satisfactory on the whole but Elodie Bouchez stands out as poor Cécile, bullied by some adults and certain kids to the point of desperation.
All things considered, an imperfect movie but not so bad as usually presented
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