Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2024 3:37 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 4897
Location: California/NYC


A playful drama about continuity and change

Nahuel Perez Biscayart, the César-winning Argentinian-born star of Robin Campillo's 120 BPM, is at the center of this film, and three women revolve around him, Valérie, Hélène, and Rosa, and as Étienne, a frenetic amateur soccer (football) coach, he is like a stick figure with emotions, jaunty and fast. Erwan Le Duc tells his story in a spare, playful cinematic style that has something of the Nouvelle Vague about it, never more than in the first ten minutes when, in an inventively shot montage, Étienne and Valérie (Mercedes Dassy) meet cute over a painted soccer ball (she's an activist with a pot of red paint; his ball goes astray); cops break up a demo and he gets arrested; she leads him in a daring escape on foot and by motorboat; she gets pregnant and has a baby, and she disappears, leaving Étienne and his parents to raise baby Rosa.

Then jump forward seventeen years. Étienne is now 37 (Biscayart's real age: but his slim boyishness is ageless). He lives with Hélène (the somewhat underused Maud Wyler) now, and grown-up Rosa (the statuesque Céleste Brunnquell), whose big, colorful, loosely figurative paintings already fill the house.

"Mild pain, cracked gaiety: Buster Keaton and Kaurismäki have a cousin": thus Sophie Grassin of the French journal L'Obs summed up this spare little film about a man and his three loves. It plays with sadness at one remove, uncertain whether its characters can or cannot deal with change.

Rosa has "passed her Bac," and her results get her admitted to the art academy of Metz. Etienne drives up to look it over with her, and it's uncertain he will let ever quite her out of his sight. He brags of her to a teacher and precisely times the drives back and forth. In case we don't get how frenetic and bossy he is, there's scene with the miscellaneous soccer players in which Biscayart gets to do a hilarious mimicry of an over-jealous coach, all over the field, shouting instructions to every player.

But the French title, "Her Father's Daughter," has at least two meanings. She is her father's daughter because she has no mother. But she's also his daughter because she is like him, though we don't completely find out how much. The film doesn't tie things up: it ends with a new beginning.

A charming interlude is provided by Rosa's boyfriend, Youssef Horlaville (Mohammed Louridi), a handsome, rali-thin poet at work on an epic about Étienne, his tragedy, and his life now. It is Youssef who points out that there's a tragedy in Valérie's abandonment. (And Youssef is an "Arab" character who happily defies all stereotypes.) Étienne has avoided looking at that and so never dealt with it. Rosa holds back from Youssef, who climbs up to Rosa's bedroom from outside "to seem more of an adventurer" and sleeps in bed with her without touching. There is a rather too on-the-nose discussion between Étienne and Youssef about the latter's jerking off in the bathroom to deal with this situation. (It's not a permanent one.)

On a darker note,, the famous writer-director Noémie Lvovsky, in a guest appearance, appears as the town Mayor to tell Étienne he's going to lose his municipal playing field. It is a sharply drawn cameo, her meanness and condescension out of tune with the rest. The news is a great shock for our hero. Still another big turnaround comes when Étienne spots Hélène - yes, he's quite sure it's she - on a TV program about a town on the Portuguese coast that has the world's highest waves. I was hoping we'd see Biscayart turn into a big-wave surfer. Instead he and Rosa have an argument and he falls down the stairs and gets an MRI and an overnight in hospital. He and Rosa both wind up in Portugal nonetheless. Watch Biscayart do another frenetic turn running nearly all the way from the hospital, with a drip stand, back home.

There is a throwaway confrontation of Étienne, Rosa, and Valérie on the beach in Portugal. It's saved from seeming a copout because the film has already established its strong mime element. (Remember "Buster Keaton and Kaurismäki have a cousin.") The Screen Daily critic calls this film "profoundly whimsical," not meant favorably. But I agree with Paris Match (not a rave) that says it seems about to lose its way but always lands on its feet because of its confident sui generis style. A very original film, a bit on the cool side but with moments of real charm.

No Love Lost/La Fille de son père, 91 mins., the director's sophomore feature, debuted as the Closing Film at Cannes Critics Week, May, 2023. Released in French theaters Dec. 20, 2023, it got an AlloCiné[ press rating 3.9 (78%) spectators 3.4 (68%).
Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, New York (Feb. 29-Mar. 10, 2024. Showtimes:
Monday, March 4 at 1:15pm
Saturday, March 9 at 1:00pm (Q&A with Erwan Le Duc and Maud Wyler)


©Chris Knipp. Blog:

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 93 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group