After "La tête de maman", Carine Tardieu once again successfully broaches the theme of the developing child and their relationships with parents not in the best of form psychologically. In the former movie, a teenage girl who witnessed her mother getting depressed and could not stand the ordeal, did her utmost to help her get over an old heartache that gnawed her. On that occasion the director had demonstrated how refreshingly creative and light-touched she could be in the approach of a tricky subject. This is again the case - and for our greater pleasure
with "Du vent dans mes mollets". For this second feature, Carine
Tardieu has had the good idea to write the script in close collaboration with Raphaële Moussafir, the author of the novel of the same name. It enables her to be very faithful to the original text on the one hand and as a director, to remain as inventive in cinematic terms as she was in "La tête de maman". This new film is indeed full of nice finds and unexpected gags , of which I will mention only one, the best of all, the silent scene in which all the kitchen cabinets collapse one by one in Denis Podalydès' back without him reacting. There are many others but I will let you discover them rather than spoil your pleasure by describing them minutely. As far as the story goes, the viewer is put in the mind of Rachel, an eight-year-old little girl and we see what happens to her through the prism of her eyes. Sensitive and smart, Rachel is nevertheless still young and sometimes misinterprets reality (for instance she totally misunderstands what a concentration camp is), which spices things up. But on the whole her judgment is sound and let's say that the grown-ups do not come out with increased stature as perceived by her : an anxious mother who wants so much to do the right thing that she becomes stifling (Agnès Jaoui in one of her least glamorous roles), an "old" daddy who, though an installer of fitted kitchens lets his family's interior decay (Denis Podalydès), a sexy schoolmistress who has no sense of psychology or justice (Elsa Lepoivre), a self-centered grandmother (Judith Magre) and so on... Fortunately for her Rachel (Juliette Gombert, whose first appearance this is) has a nice understanding psychologist (Isabella Rossellini) to help her and a great new friend, Valérie (Anna Lemarchand, a real character!, also for the first time before the cameras). Thanks to (or from another perspective, because of) Valérie, Rachel rapidly evolves from the perfect little girl (but that did not stop her thinking, mind you) to little devil up to no good... Good laughs, both on and in front of the screen, ensue of course. But Carine Tardieu and Raphaële Moussafir must be credited for going beyond the "kids-doing-dirty-tricks" cliché, enjoyable as it is. For, although it is not self-evident from the start, the substance here is serious. What the movie is about in fact is : growing up, learning who one is, friendship, parents as fallen idols, and the least expected one (but running deep throughout): the issue of death. Nothing but serious matters but tackled elegantly in a light tone that helps the medicine go down.
Funny AND poignant, inventive AND serious, entertaining AND thought- provoking, "Du vent dans mes mollets" has not been a box office success in France for nothing.
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