NZIFF ’10: The Father of My Children (Le Père de Mes Enfants)

nziff ’10: The Father of My Children (Le Père de Mes Enfants)
Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve | France | 2009 | 110 mins.

The French director Mia Hansen-Løve began her filmmaking career as an actress, appearing in Olivier Assayas’ films Fin août, début septembre (1998) and Les destinées sentimentales (2000). Her 2007 début feature, Tout est Pardonné (All is Forgiven) explored the ramifications of a father’s drug addiction on his family, and her new film is every bit its equal. Covering similar ground (I’d say she probably has some daddy issues, wouldn’t you?), Le Père looks at what happens to a family when their film-producer father, upset at his inability to financially support the artistic vision of a Lars von Trier-like director, takes his own life.

Hansen-Løve is particularly adept at seeing events—and, importantly, their repercussions—through her female characters’ eyes, particularly the younger characters, the daughters. In this regard she examines the female psyche in a more nuanced manner than someone like Sofia Coppola—and, to boot, without the slightly vacant wistfulness. (Speaking of Coppola, she seems to be on a similarly tragic downward trajectory to Richard Kelly: the trailer for her new film Somewhere, which premières at Venice in November, looks like Lost in Translation relocated to the Chateau Marmont.) Le Père is a delight the whole way through, even when its characters are sometimes downcast.

The Father of My Children will almost certainly be re-released at Rialto and similar cinemas.