How I Killed My Father

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Overview

When the grown-up children of a missing parent are reunited with their father, they discover it raises more questions than it answers in a well-crafted mood piece from writer/director Anne Fontaine. Jean-Luc (Charles Berling) is a well-to-do physician whose practice is devoted to older patients, many of whom are forced to confront their fears about death. While Jean-Luc is used to dealing with such issues, they come home for him one day when he learns that his father has died. The news prompts Jean-Luc to look ...
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Overview

When the grown-up children of a missing parent are reunited with their father, they discover it raises more questions than it answers in a well-crafted mood piece from writer/director Anne Fontaine. Jean-Luc (Charles Berling) is a well-to-do physician whose practice is devoted to older patients, many of whom are forced to confront their fears about death. While Jean-Luc is used to dealing with such issues, they come home for him one day when he learns that his father has died. The news prompts Jean-Luc to look back at his younger days, and his difficult relationship with his dad, Maurice (Michel Bouquet), who ran out on his family when Jean-Luc was a boy and returned after he'd grown to adulthood with few explanations about where he'd gone (he became a volunteer physician in the Third World) and why he left his wife and children behind. Growing up in an air of uncertainty has had an impact on Jean-Luc's relationship with his wife Isa (Natacha Regnier); neither is certain of how to reach out to one another, and Jean-Luc sometimes seeks comfort in the arms of Myriem (Amira Casar), an assistant in his office. Maurice's absence also took its toll on Jean-Luc's brother, Patrick (Stephane Guillon), who deals with his anxieties by pursuing a career as a comic, while earning his keep as Jean-Luc's driver.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Adam Bregman
Though it received many smashing reviews, Comment J'ai Tué Mon Pere, or How I Killed My Father as it was released in America, is not the equal to writer/director Anne Fontaine's previous film Dry Cleaning. However, the plot is very similar. Both feature a surprise guest and marital complications for the characters played by Charles Berling. In Comment, Berling is Jean-Luc, a shallow and reprehensible rich doctor, while his father Maurice (Michel Bouquet) is a mysterious character, charming to most people, but the viewer wonders what is up his sleeve. Isa (Natacha Régnier) is the polar opposite of her character in the hit The Dreamlife of Angels, here unrecognizable from that performance. She plays a yuppie housewife who takes a liking to Maurice, as he squabbles with his two sons. The other son, Patrick (Stephane Guillon), is a terrible standup comic and his act, which pops up throughout the film, is baffling and about the furthest thing from funny. None of the characters are terribly interesting except for Maurice. Still, the movie has several plot twists and plenty of drama, and is held together by Bouquet's superb performance.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/27/2004
  • UPC: 717119863449
  • Original Release: 2001
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Yorker Video
  • Time: 1:40:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michel Bouquet Maurice
Charles Berling Jean-Luc
Natacha Régnier Isa
Amira Casar Myriem
Stephane Guillon Patrick
Hubert Kounde Jean-Toussaint
François Berléand Maurice's patient
Karole Rocher
Marie Micla
Technical Credits
Anne Fontaine Director, Screenwriter
Philippe Carcassonne Producer
Jacques Fieschi Screenwriter
Jocelyn Pook Score Composer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Dascinatingly bold, provocative view of Dysfunctional Family

    If you like to become so involved in a film that you feel as though you are inside the minds of the actors and the writer and the atmosphere of a film, then MY FATHER AND I is definitely a classic film to treasure. On the other hand, if you favor stories that are linear and clear with a start and an undisputed finish that brings assured closure, then this film will be frustrating. Anne Fontaine has gathered an accomplished cast of French actors and directed them in a mind excursion that asks as many questions as it answers: are we observing a family out of sync and falling into disrepair before our eyes, or are we privy to the instant mental response to a letter that triggers a life in a flashing moment that is resolved by psychological hypothesis? It is this kind of storytelling that the French do so well, and in this reviewer's opinion this is one of the finest films to challenge our minds that has come along in years.Jean-Luc (impeccably portrayed by the exquisite Charles Berling) is a wealthy physician whose practice in Versailles caters to the aging wealthy, a clientele who see him as a god with his Human Growth Hormone injections, Botox treatment, and other battlements against aging (Gerontology, his specialty). He is married to a phenomenally beautiful wealthy wife (Natacha Regnier, as beautiful as she is talented), lives in a magnificent home, uses his younger brother as his aide/chauffeur allowing that brother to pursue his dreams of being a standup comedian, and maintains a mistress on the side. His marriage is childless: his wife depends on her husband to be her doctor and has been informed that for her health she should not have the children she yearns to bear. As the story opens, Jean-Luc is readying himself for a party honoring him for his contributions to the town, a party of great elegance given in his own home. As he prepares to dress he notices a letter announcing that his father has died. Pregnant pause.... At the party that commences his father appears and gradually we discover that the father Maurice (played with great subtlety and nuance by Michele Bouquet) and his sons have not seen each other for many years: the disillusioned Maurice left his family when his two sons were very young to go off to Africa to treat the indigenous population - a physician to the poor in contrast to Jean-Luc's physician to the wealthy. This history has profoundly affected Jean-Luc who avoids intimacy with his wife, does not want children to remind him of the childhood he remembers with loathing for his deserting father, and in many ways has brought him to a life that mimics that of the very father that he no longer knows. Maurice ingratiates himself into staying with Jean-Luc and his wife, gently alludes to the fact that after leaving Africa following one of the many government overthrows he is without pension or support, and gently requests support form his wealthy son. Maurice befriends Jean-Luc's wife, attempts reconnection with the other son, and finally has a confrontation with Jean-Luc over the differences (and very real similarities) between their life choices. At this point a significant scene brings closure to the tale and we are returned to the image of Jean-Luc reading the letter that initiated the pregnant pause at the beginning of the film. It is up to us, the viewer to decide if we have observed fact, or if we have entered the imaginative brain of Jean-Luc reacting to a letter. This is movie making at its finest. The direction is brilliant, tense, revelatory, and kaleidoscopic. The acting is so very fine that it defies description. An outstanding movie visually, psychologically, and technically. Highly Recommended.

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