Jean-Luc is an established gerontologist who can do no wrong; he runs a private clinic specialising in anti-ageing treatments. Honoured for his work in this field, he throws a garden party at his home. It is during this social event that his father suddenly reappears, back after a long exile. A physician, he had left decades earlier without any apparent reason to practice in Africa. He moves into his son's home for several days, phlegmatically observing everything with an enigmatic smile. He peruses Jean-Luc's life and environment with cruel objectivity. The arrival of this interloper father, who everyone thought had disappeared for good, shatters the family microcosm: Jean-Luc doesn't know how to take him, as if the memory - or the resentment - was nothing but lost time; his wife becomes fond of this highly unconventional man; after first refusing to deal with him, Jean-Luc's younger brother strikes up a modest bond with him.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A marvelous psychological meditation that mystifies and reveals
The pace, the images, the characters in this film are deliciously meditative...and although universal in its content, very French in its presentation. Not a film for Americans who want an action-packed, easily accessible narrative. But those who enjoy an intelligent exploration of relationships at a deep even profound level will find this movie to their liking.
The basic line sets up the life of a very successful gerontologist, dealing in anti-aging methods, married to a beautiful, compliant young woman and also involved sexually with his attractive assistant. When he receives a letter telling him his father, who has been a doctor in Africa and deserted his family many years ago, has died, we are given a revery from his imagination. In this reflection, his father appears at his elegant home and the rest of the film explores the son's complex relationship and emotions relative to what he believes these might be, should his father actually show up. A very interesting devise...using classic projection and giving us the challenging question "What is real and what is imagined".
The cast is superb...with special kudos to Michael Bouquet and Charles Berling, the leads.
I recently saw "Life As A House"...and while the performances were fine...the movie itself...dealing again with a father-son relationship...was such a mish-mash of extraneous characters, the real focus and profundity were lost in the Hollywood glitter of it all. This Anne Fontaine film keeps the color so wonderfully subdued, almost a sense of black and white, that the visual aspect is moodily effective and appropriate to its theme.
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