Daddy Nostalgia (1990) Poster

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Daddy Nostalgie is a bittersweet glimpse into one family's struggle to be a family.
huntleyhaverstock28 June 2001
Daddy Nostalgie centers its attention on Jane Birkin's character, Caroline, who is a successful screenwriter based in Paris. As the story opens, she receives a call from her mother explaining that her father is in the hospital recovering from heart surgery. Tony Russell, her father, played by Dirk Bogarde in his final role, was a successful international salesman who had to spend much of his career traveling abroad. Caroline, ever the dutiful daughter, then travels to the Cote d'Azur to be by her parents' side during this family crisis. During this time, Caroline finally has a chance to get to know her father for what might be the first time.

While most films tend to gloss over the more complex and lasting aspects of familial relationships, this film focuses on them. In life, every action is steeped in history, and every action carries with it consequences for good and/or for ill. This film is true to that reality. Daddy Nostalgie examines how people live with the consequences of their actions, how those consequences often echo through the generations, and how we can both love and hate someone at the same time.

What makes this film superior is how the director is able to show the emotional complexity of the characters. They are forced to confront many opposites, such as love and hate, life and death, marriage and divorce. While struggling to remain calm on the surface, each character must try to suppress the emotions being churned up within. Tavernier is able to show how everyone is successful, but only to a point, of maintaining such a false front. All are trying to hide their feelings from the others, but also from themselves. And it is why and how they maintain these facades that make this film both interesting and bittersweet.
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Delicate limning of death
gleywong1 March 2003
This touching film bears up to repeated viewings for its subtlety and insight. I agree with all of the comments discussed by the two previous reviewers, Victoria and Les Halles.

By focussing on the "non-action" of daily life and daily conversation, Tavernier appears to present a nothing of a film, but in reality has captured something valuable and ephemeral -- the silent dialogue between a husband and wife after a long marriage and the discovery of love between a father and daughter, all of whom have to deal in their own way with his impending death.

The use as a coda of the haunting song "These foolish things remind me of you" as sung by Jane Birkin in her breathless voice has never been more apt. It should be noted from the credits that Tavernier dedicated this film to another cinema genius Michael Powell (of the team Powell & Pressberger). Like Powell, Dirk Bogarde, both in the film and in real life, was very English, but cosmopolitan in intellect and cultural tastes. These characteristics are brought out in Bogarde's portrayal and in Birkin's flashbacks of her early remembrances. The acting and inter-action of the three principals, Bogarde, Birkin and Laure, is so subtle as to not appear as such, again a tribute to their experience and rapport with the director.

For someone who has faced the recent death of a loved one, this film rings true, and the refrain from the song takes on a new dimension, not intended by the original lyricist.

*****Five stars for hitting its emotional target..
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robertconnor7 June 2005
After extensive heart surgery, a retired businessman living in the south of France returns home to convalesce. There he is visited by his daughter Caroline. As his health declines, Caroline is confronted by all the familiar behaviour patterns of her relationship with her mother and father.

This is an exquisite example of cinematic subtlety and understatement from Tavernier, Bogarde and Birkin. Tavernier enables his actors to create an intensely realistic 'family' - proud father, long-suffering mother, loving yet insecure daughter - all struggling to come to terms with the fragility of life. Bogarde and Birkin are deeply moving as father and daughter, clumsily struggling to communicate as adults after a lifetime of parent and child, and Laure provides selfless support, raging silently against the inevitable.

As a study of life's finite nature, this is faultless. As a final outing for Bogarde, it is a fitting and extraordinary tribute to a master-craftsman of the cinema.
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Cinema at its best gives us a bird's eye view of life
LesHalles8 July 2002
I second Victoria's comments. A profoundly moving film.

Caroline loves her father and craves his attention, but he has lived a self-indulgent life and never gave her the time and affection she needed. Now, as time is running out, they both strive to heal their relationship.

A superbly successful investigation of the relationship between a woman and her father, that both analyzes their feelings and narrates their efforts to reach each other, and which ends in a timeless, transcendental moment capturing the bittersweet and ephemeral nature of life.

For me,as a man, the film gave insight into the father/daughter relationship; I notice that young women gave this film a higher rating than other groups.

Also, one of the few English language films of Jane Birkin widely available in the USA, along with Dust and Kung Fu Master. A uniquely sensitive actress with a large body of work in French cinema.
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Sunny tale of life ending
Bob Taylor1 September 2006
Dirk Bogarde is wonderful in his last film. Everything we remember from the past is here: the laconic smile, the raised eyebrow that seems to say Oh, really?, the perfect timing. Add to these the lassitude that comes to those whose hearts are functioning far below standard--the story starts just after his heart surgery. Jane Birkin is playing a character for once whose life is not a caricature, as it was in too many of her films--you don't remember the Gainsbourg years when you see her here. Odette Laure as the mother is new to me, but she plays very well indeed; she is the watchful manager of her husband's declining resources.

The use of flashbacks slows the film down, makes it less tense, but that is a minor cavil. The final scenes, with the exasperation of the beginning gone, are terribly poignant: the setting sun remark from Caroline, Daddy's comments on the management of pain as they stand in the garden, then the discussion of love in the car. Here the cinema goes as far as it can in expressing regret and acceptance.
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A moving masterpiece
fanaticita16 December 2005
The other reviewers have captured the essence of this beautiful film about a family searching for love, relationship, meaning. For me it was a bittersweet viewing as I am a devoted Dirk Bogarde fan, and this was his last film. Bogarde, according the the special features section of the DVD, didn't want to do the film to begin with, but changed his mine. How grateful the film audience is for his decision! I noticed his voice had changed somewhat -a bit higher in tone, perhaps because he had aged, or perhaps his characters situation in the film. Still, it was pure Bogarde, subtle, intense, utterly and completely believable always. With the addition of a beautifully written script, exquisite scenery, and the fine acting of Ms. Birkin and the supporting cast it was a delight. During the special features section Ms. Birkin was interviewed and had nothing but lovely things to say about Dirk Bogarde, his special sensitivity to her during the filming, his aid to help her through difficult scenes, etc. The film world lost one of its finest when we lost Bogarde.
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A melancholy kind of beauty
davidgoesboating17 September 2007
Daddy Nostalgie looked promising right from the outset. A film by Bertrand Tavernier (director of the gentle, beautiful 'Sunday in the Country') starring Jane Birkin (so superb in La Belle Noiseuse) and Dirk Bogarde (who stole the show from Gielgud and Burstyn in Providence... no mean feat at all) - it was hard to imagine this being anything other than a quality film.

And yet, even I was surprised by how good it was. So few films allow you to truly empathise with the characters, but this movie is an exception. You really feel for Birkin's character, as you see the hurt she still feels from being ignored as a child. The best scenes are those between her and her father - he, trying to make the most of his last days, and she, trying to make the most of her last days with him. Even the crabby mother is given a degree of character development as the film moves on, but in the end she takes a back seat to the performance of the two superb lead actors.

A sensitive, mature film with truly beautiful cinematography, this is one that will surely be appreciated by anyone who has had to deal with family relationships at any stage in their life.
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Daddy's Sauce Piquant
writers_reign18 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I was, of course, twenty-one years younger than I am now when this film was released and I was disinclined to see it because I'd seen Dirk Bogarde in more bad and/or indifferent films than good ones and I had an aversion to Jane Birkin. Having now seen and enjoyed it I am almost certain I would have appreciated it had someone at the time urged me to check it out. For a film in which nothing happens there's a lot going on and the three leads are beyond praise; in one sense this film achieves Oscar Wilde's ambition of writing an entire Act of a three-act play with no action; had Checkov had that same ambition and borough it off the result may well have been something like this beautiful film.
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A sad father daughter love story
gilgeoIII13 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Daddy Nostalgia is a deeply moving love story, in a French/English production, about an emotionally starved daughter and her dying father, played by the great Dirk Bogarde, a self-absorbed, remote ironist who never had time for her.

The sad irony of his life is that even on the verge of death he still can't make that connection until the end of their last night together, and then only tenuously. The film, directed by Bertrand Tavernier, who has accomplished a body of wonderful work, is wise, bittersweet and unsentimental, excepting the background music of "These Foolish Things," played and sung beautifully by Jimmy Rowles, the jazz master.

The superb Jane Birkin plays the daughter with heartbreaking sensitivity as she flirts continually with her father, as does he with her, then turns hard momentarily with the devastating, "I don't want to hear about your beautiful life. It was a selfish life and your selfish sun is setting." I wept. As the final credits rolled, over the sound track of "These Foolish Things," sung again with piercing beauty by Rowles and the surprising Birkin, I wept again. Who could ask for anything more?
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Inauthentic lives
hark-228 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Not a cheerful film, this one. Filmed on the Riviera, but in autumn, the season of decay and death, each character is the sum of a life lived without passion or love. Laure's "Miche" is entirely closed off, ready at all times to express a seething resentment but too resigned to do so. Birkin's "Caroline" is frustrated on every level. Her characteristic sweetness, a compensation for years of neglect from her parents, occasionally comes unstuck with momentary, high-decibel explosions of anger. Bogarde's "Daddy" has mostly lived his life oblivious to those around him, a self-absorbed man unable to truly participate in the hedonism he always sought.

You've got to applaud Bertrand Tavernier's courage for making a film about the desperate lives most people endure. And for making the Riviera, normally the epitome of sun and the good life, equally depressing.
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Beautiful & moving portrait of a father and daughter
WilliamCKH18 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I must say that I'm not used to watching this type of film. I found it initially very difficult to get into this film because all the characters trapped in this house and you have no idea if you will ever end up caring about their story and their relationships with one another, but after about halfway into it, it becomes clear that there really no story, just the reminiscing of a daughter trying desperately to connect with her father, perhaps for one last time. The ending I found to be absolutely beautiful, where not only does she find out about the death of her father, but that, because there is a train strike, she can't go and see him, and she's left wandering the streets singing that sad, sad song she and her father used to sing together. These foolish things... remind me of you..

I've also had a chance to see Tavernier's "A Sunday in the Country" and I found both these films very similar. The tone and impression created by Tavernier are what makes these movies so wonderful. There is this feeling of noble sadness when watching these films that, somehow, manages to give you such a lift because it doesn't exploit the character's emotions to serve the film or audience. The camera is merely an observer, letting many things left unsaid...unexplained.
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not much fun to watch but a wonderful film nevertheless
MartinHafer30 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I strongly admire those who made this film. It was a very brave film in that it sought to talk about and help the audience to accept the reality of death. In general, we all deny that it exists and when people die in most films, it's detached and almost entertaining. For example, a typical John Wayne flick makes death a plot device and films such as Steel Magnolias over-glamorizes death. However, this film candidly shows one family's experiences dealing with (and refusing to deal with) the approaching death of the father. It is very reminiscent of the equally amazing The Barbarian Invasions (2003) because they both are brave and realistic films.

Some aspects I loved were the unspoken realization but the outward optimism concerning dad's terminal illness, the horribly controlling manner the mother lead her life in an apparent attempt to stop death juxtaposed with the dad's desire to have fun and have a last fling (this is a common dilemma) and the honest writing by someone who wrote as if they were describing REAL people. Too often, people deal with death too well in films--seeing so much denial and unspoken sentiments is realistic. Maybe not "perfect", but certainly realistic.

By the way, this was Dirk Bogarde's last film and was a wonderful conclusion to his long career.
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