English Title: Our Children
Original Title: À perdre la raison
Language: French, Arabic
Country: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Cinematography: Jean-François Hensgens
A KVIFF screening, from French director Joachim Lafosse, before now the film has won a BEST ACTRESS award (for Émilie Dequenne) in UN CERTAIN REGARD competition in this year’s Cannes.
It is an unsettling drama concerns a tragedy which would be quite a mind-shocker. The film begins with the wife lying in the hospital bed (clearly after some severe accident) and mumbling that her children should be buried in Morocco, so during the subsequent truth-revealing narrative, viewers are practically preparing ourselves to undertake a tremendous calamity (my speculation is a car accident), but the film will deliver a much stronger and crueler blow, the actual long-takes of the massacre are done in an eerily tranquil restraint (considerably withdrawn from the actual execution).
The foci are on the bizarre triangular relationship among three people, Mounir, a young Moroccan man and his French wife Murielle, live with elderly André a rich French doctor who had a paper marriage arrangement with Mounir’s mother, so he could bring Mounir with him, and provide a job for him to work in his private clinic. So technically Mounir-André’s quasi father-son bond has a deeper root (than Murielle, the clear intruder could imagine) although they are no blood linkage. Later, when their children consequently arriving in this world, step-by-step Murielle finds herself suffocated by the temporal life (possibly postpartum depression), and eagerly sways Mounir to go back to Morocco with their family, to start their life anew. But thing is slipping to an abyss when André cannot risk losing them and Mounir relies too much on him (both economically and psychologically) as well. Until the confrontation between Murielle and André finally occurs, the tragedy is inescapable.
A heavy string score is predestined to the solemn tenor, the film is a trifle long-haul (a 111 minute running time) and the transitions of the characters’ mental activities are either too abrupt or too hackneyed, but Émilie Dequenne for sure has been splendidly extraordinary in her devastating role, her self-destroy interpretation is powerful enough to propel the story against its ill-fated destiny. The A PROPHET (2009) pair, Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup are sharing their leading status as the other two angles of the triangle hazard, and overtly the latter has a meatier presence.
There is a chafed undertone against the main plot, which I dare not to sidestep, the legality of paper marriage may not be the crux behind the tragedy, but nevertheless plays an influential part of the contemporary immigrant quandary.