Grown Ups (2008) Anna Novion’s Father-Daughter Drama at Cannes Film Fest

Grown Ups, which premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Fest, is a sensitive family story about the relationship of father and daughter.

Albert buys his daughter Jeanne an initiatory journey to a European country every year. For her 17th birthday, he chooses a trip to Sweden to look for the lost treasure of a famous Viking. When they arrive in the rented house, they realize that it’s occupied by Annika and Christine. The improbable quartet decides to share the place, which makes Albert upset and Jeanne happy.

The forced cohabitation shatters everyone’s beliefs and delusions, and pushes all of them into rethinking their lives and starting anew. Leaving behind ancient demons, and discovering unexpected feelings for others, they will all come back deeply changed.

Interview with Anna Novion

How did you begin writing this film

It began with Sweden. The country itself was an important component for me. I had already made two shorts there. I wanted to shoot my first feature in a world I know well, albeit a world in which I do not fully grasp all the social codes. My mother is Swedish and every summer when I return to the family homestead on an island in the Gothenburg archipelago, I have the sensation that my view of the island, and the country, is new and fresh.

What kind of story are you telling

It is about the encounter of four people who normally should never have met. As in my shorts, I am interested in how relationships knit together between people. How they watch and scope each other out, open up and drop their masks little by little over time.

The father-daughter theme

The idea dates back to 2001. My mother had invited some friends to join us where we were spending the summer in Sweden: a father and daughter and another woman who inspired me to write the part of Christine. What most interested me was to see how the father was bringing up his daughter. He was totally invested in her development, even as he rejected any evidence of her nascent femininity. He did not want to see her grow up, because he understood he would have to take on duties he felt incapable of even facingthings that would embarrass a man of his sorta man who was still, no doubt, something of a child inside.

Casting Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Albert

He lives and breathes a natural sense of humanity. And the character he plays is always engaging, even if sometimes hard to take, with his rigid ideology and the meticulous control of his daughters time.

Anas Demoustier as Jeanne

I saw 60 candidates for the role. Jeanne is a character living full time in a bubble, disconnected and playing by her own rulesliving alone, outside her fathers moral and intellectual domain. In auditions, Anas struck me as perfect, as if I had written the part for her. Her performance is sober and natural, even as it always belies an enormous palette of emotions.

Finishing the first feature

I used to say to myself the day I would make my first feature, I would become a woman! I always told myself that would be the casethat I would become an adult, a grown up. I have come to realize that after making the film I am still exactly the same person I used to be!