It takes 12 years for Louis to return to his home and he struggles with the emotions of confronting his family which he left behind. His mother, brother, sister and new sister-in-law are waiting with anticipation and uncertainty to see the man who made a life for himself elsewhere. They perform like they are playing charades and constantly struggle with their unspoken histories and memories. Louis has come to say something, but fights with the silence that has overtaken him. They are clearly a family struggling with their emotional dysfunctionality and are afraid to say what is in their heart.
This film has an excellent international cast: Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Nathalie Baye and takes place mostly in the family house so it is tight and controlled with swelling emotions which are trying to escape at every turn. Director Xavier Dolan takes Jean-Luc La Grace’s stage play to another level. He made things happen in the film which is difficult to do on stage. There are moments in this film where, between the actions, are silence, sounds, memories, and color or a blurred moment happens. If this film could produce smells, it would be hidden between the lines as well. This film breathes and blinks in a way that makes you feel that the film itself is a living being.
Before viewing the film, there was an opening Skype message from Xavier Dolan, who apologized that he could not attend the festival and praised the Filmfest Hamburg, as well as Albert Wiederspiel and team for their support and generosity to him, Dolan, in his efforts as a director. This seemed a bit strange, since he had already won the Gran Prix at Cannes, but it could be that he was anticipating mixed reviews like he had received at Cannes. In retrospect, I believe that Wiederspiel made the right decision by including this film in the program as well as the Art Cinema jury choosing this fantastic and memorable film as the recipient of this award. It clearly was my favorite film from all the films that I saw in all the different categories.
This family drama is a must see and opens on December 29, 2016 in Hamburg cinemas. So go get your tickets and start the New Year off with a worthwhile film with deep insights to a family’s psyche.