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Ever since she broke up with Nigel, Lena soldiers on through life as best she can with her two kids. She valiantly overcomes the obstacles put in her way. But she has yet to confront the worst of them: Her unstoppable family has decided, by any means necessary, to make her happy. Written by
American Film Market
The Fascination of Observing a Dysfunctional Family
Christophe Honoré (with Geneviève Brisac) wrote and directed this strange but endlessly fascinating film about family. Not unlike Honoré's other films ('The Clan', 'Les Chansons d'amour', 'Dans Paris', 'Ma mère', 'La Belle Personne', etc), 'Non Ma Fille, Tu N'iras pas Danser' (AKA 'Making Plans for Lena') dissects relationships searching for the core of identity that binds a family unit, usually uncovering some deep seated problems that other writer/directors fear approaching. His focus is usually on women, how they are increasingly forced to take the primary role in the family - mother, breadwinner, protector, and distraught loner after a husband leaves in divorce. While in his other films Honoré keeps the incidents mirrored in this story palliatively light, here he delves more deeply and with greater seriousness of direction to create on of his finest films to date. While the film is readily available on demand through the television system, IFC has yet to release the film in the US, hence the review for the film on the very readily available MP3 downloads! The film should be available soon, both in theaters and on DVD: this note is to encourage viewers to watch for it.
Léna (Chiara Mastroianni, daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcel Mastroianni) is the harried mother of Anton (Donatien Suner, a very bright young talent) and Augustine (Lou Pasquerault), and in the throes of a divorce from an American adulterer Nigel (Jean-Marc Barr) and is leaving Paris to stay in the country home of her parents ((Marie-Christine Barrault and Fred Ulysse) as they prepare to take a holiday in Rome by bus. Her parents face their own demons: her father has a progressive neurologic disease and her mother is both annoyingly authoritarian and sexy - the couple retains their physicality in their waning years. Upon arrival Léna encounters not only her bossy mother but her rather infantile brother Gulven (Julien Honoré) and his current amour Elise (Alice Butaud) as well as her sister Frédérique (Marina Foïs), pregnant with her second child - her husband José (Jean-Baptiste Fonck) and their son (it is also obvious that this relationship is not a tidy one!). What was supposed to be a time of rest ends up a time of frustration, sadness over her role as a single mother who despite her loathing of Nigel's extramarital affair, still loves him and longs for the peace of a quiet family life. All of Léna's family try to help her find paths to happiness) including introducing a possible love interest in a friend of Gulven's named Simon (Louis Garrel). Reflections of the past joy of her childhood only make her more aware of her discontented present and even with the lovely film within a film about a Breton tale, of Katell Gollet (Katel the Lost), dramatized by figures in traditional Breton costume enacting a festival where Katell torments young men by making them dance to death and winds up marrying the devil to defy her father (the filming of this 'entr'acte' is magnificently beautiful): even Léna's children attempt to assuage their mother's obvious anguish at her struggle with reality.
The film jumps forward in time and Léna has moved back to Paris, works in floral shop, and continues to struggle with her feelings about Nigel. When her work makes heavy demands on her she requests Nigel's help in watching after the children. An accident involving Anton brings her back into the role of facing exactly what it is she wants and needs to make her happy. The cast is uniformly superb, with special kudos to Chiara Mastroianni who has become a strong actress with a very bright future. The musical score by Alex Beaupain and the brilliant cinematography by Laurent Brunet (much of the film was shot in Brittany) add enormously to the effect of the multiple stories this film weaves into one. Highly Recommended.
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