Written by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Starring: Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Alice de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Michaël Abiteboul
People carry so much on their minds where even those closest to them may never be aware until it becomes too late. Even a family member you may come across every single day can keep this under wraps. Father of My Children presents an unenviable circumstance where pain comes at a cost and it forces those who remain to pick up the pieces and attempt to put it all back together.
French film producer, Grégoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) has many projects on the docket and not many of them are making a proper amount of money. He lives his days constantly on the phone with different filmmakers and other employees as he tries to balance both his work responsibilities and being an attentive husband and father. When the level of debt he has accrued begins to become overwhelming, he takes drastic steps in order to escape his reality.
Like a punch to the gut but also uplifting in the aftermath, the events playing out in Father of My Children truly leave a mark in the way it displays the perspectives of all sides in this family. Beginning by seeing the busy work life of Grégoire and then switching over to his wife and children shows the larger impact his struggles have on them. A tale of two halves and one that works to a devastating degree.
As much as this film focuses on the familial aspects of this tale, it sheds light on the world of being a producer. Several elements play into making a movie the average person may be aware of, which includes the director, actors, cinematographers, and so on. Each of these aspects in making the film comes with a level of passion as they’re the individuals creating the eventual output. Producers have their hands in the overall creation but they essentially sit as business folks just trying to keep the lights on. Constantly having to worry about the budget, the amount of film, and all the other minute details the “talent” never needs to consider seems like quite the chore. It stems from being part of the profession where none of the fun occurs but a large brunt of the work exists. The amount of calls Grégoire on an average day would make the common person mad as the job entails putting out metaphorical fires all day. A common saying goes around stating that a movie ever being made and released serves as its own miracle makes sense considering all of the moving pieces involved and Grégoire’s stint in this movie demonstrates exactly why it becomes a dangerous game to play.
When picking up the pieces, a level of melancholic sadness reigns over the film because of the traumatic event that occurs, which gets carried by Sylvia Canvel as Grégoire’s wife, and Alice de Lencquesaing as his daughter, Clémence. The suddenness leaves a real impact on them as well as the audience as it seemingly comes out of nowhere. However, when looking back, hindsight really shows all of the signs lining up for this unfortunate situation. The women get left with the aftermath and they decide to take up the remaining work as a way to honor Grégoire, which demonstrates the power of family and the legacy one can leave.
Emotionally devastating work and expertly done so by the ever-great Mia Hansen-Løve. She based this film on another film producer’s life and she truly injects humanity into this picture. Hansen-Løve shows what makes Grégoire a loving father, even if he’s not always emotionally available. He loves his children but struggles to find the balance, which only makes the aftermath of the tragedy so much harder to bear. The way she navigates this story hits all the right notes when necessary as it allows for the tender moments to caress the characters the harsh instances of reality jolt them back to the real world. Hansen-Løve has proven to be a strong director of emotions as she winds us up for this journey on both sides and the beauty and turmoil involved in each one.
Devastating as it is moving, Father of My Children provides a peek behind the curtain of a family presenting one thing on the outside and something else internally. It shows how someone like Grégoire can feel so alone in situations where he’s surrounded by a family that cares for him intensely. No situation comes perfectly as shown by this narrative and its wonderful director lays it all out for us to on this journey.