Father of My Children, The

By Patrick McGavin
 
 “The Father of My Children” (“Le Pere de mes Enfants”) is a highly sensitive, poignant, and perceptive new drama from the emerging young director Mia Hansen-Love, best known until now as an actress; she appeared in Olivier Assayas’ “Late August, Early September.” Writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve was cited this year as one of Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch.” 
Disregard the title, which is accurate but perhaps too literal and literate to attract attention to a foreign film, especially in these dire times. Touching, compelling, but decidedly unsentimental, “The Father of My Children” is a deeply moving portrait of a family undergoing a dramatic rupture as a result of a major crisis.
 
I saw the film last year at the Un Certain Regard series of the Cannes Film Fest, where it won a Special Jury Prize, before playing at the Toronto Film Festival. The highly acclaimed movie was also featured at the prestigious 2010 New Directors/New Films in 2010 and screens this week at the 2010 City of Lights City of Angels (COLCOA) French film festival in Los Angeles.  The movie will open in New York on May 28, followed by a release in Los Angeles, after becoming available nationwide on May 26 via IFC Films’ video on demand platform (VOD), available to over 50 million homes in all major markets.
 
When the tale begins, Paris-based film producer Grégoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) seems to have it all: a wife and three daughters he adores and a stimulating job that he is devoted to and good at.  To outsiders, Canvel appears invincible, a man who maintains humor and charm as he tirelessly juggles the never-ending demands of his production company with his domestic responsibilities.
 
However, surfaces and appearances deceive. When Grégoire’s reserves, both financial and emotional, reach a dramatic breaking point, his wife Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) and children are forced to cope with the profound repercussions.
 
Hansen-Levy has previously helmed “All Is Forgiven,” which was well-received, but with her sophomore picture, she emerges as a major talent to watch. Indeed, with her new feature, she succeeds in conveying in great realistic detail the life of a working producer by placing him against the shifting climate of the movie business, while devoting equal attention to the impact of his job (and work-related problems) on his personal and domestic life. End result is a fully-realized intimate portrait of an intelligent man, who ultimately is unable to cope with the various demands and pressures that surround him.
 
Be warned: At the end of the press screening, many of us critics were wiping their tears and were so touched by what we saw that we did not talk about or analyze the film.
 
Running time: 110 minutes