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|François Berléand||Maurice's patient|
|Anne Fontaine||Director, Screenwriter|
|Jocelyn Pook||Score Composer|
Posted October 1, 2010
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.