© Tobis Film GmbH

Plötzlich Papa (Demain Tout Commence)
France/U.K. 2016

Opening 5 Jan 2017

Directed by: Hugo Gélin
Writing credits: Eugenio Derbez, Igor Gotesman, Hugo Gélin, Leticia López Margalli, Mathieu Oullion
Principal actors: Omar Sy, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand, Ashley Walters, Gloria Colston

Samuel (Sy) lives in southern France. He takes tourists out to sea on a yacht, enjoys the beautiful girls on the beach, and generally leads a life of leisure. Occasionally his boss Samantha (Clémentine Célarié) calls him to account for his lack of discipline, but just one smile from Sam and his boss forgives all. Life changes drastically with one short visit from Kristin (Poésy). She meets him on the boat dock, thrusts a baby into his arms, claims that it is his child and its name is Gloria. She then disappears for the next eight years. Sam moves to London, in the search for Kristin. He is “discovered” as a talented stuntman, a job which now pays his bills and furnishes his apartment with everything a growing girl could wish for. Sam and Gloria are best friends. His gay boss Bernie (Bertrand), a film producer, becomes part of the family – kind of a surrogate mother. Sam fears that Gloria might miss her real mother and he creates a fantasy Kristin, who supposedly contacts Gloria via email and tells her of her adventures as a secret agent, flying a helicopter around the world on government missions This could go on forever, but it doesn’t. Kristin travels from New York to London to meet her daughter, with new boyfriend Lowell (Ashley Walters) in tow. She wants to make things right again.

Familiar scenes of London are nice, but the main attraction is French actor Omar Sy who is in practically every shot: tall, young, good-looking. Omar Sy began working in video and TV, but his career took a huge jump when he starred in Ziemlich beste Freunde (Intouchables, 2011) in which he played a care giver, taking care of a handicapped millionaire played by François Cluzet. From there he went from film to film including X-Men, Jurrassic World, Monsieur Chocolat (excellent!) and, recently, Inferno. Antoine Bertrand is cuddly as he dreams of a new relationship. But it’s young Gloria Colston, playing Gloria at age eight, who steals the show.

Perhaps the film cannot decide whether to be humorous or serious; perhaps that’s just life. At any rate the plot follows the new trend of featuring “families,” even, as in this case, unusual families. One song had a lasting impression on me. It is by Arthur Lee (1945-2006) and his band Love that he formed in the mid-1960s. The song goes: “She said if you’re with me I’ll never go away. That’s when I stopped and I took another look at my baby. She said if you’re with me I’ll never go away because everybody’s gotta live and everybody’s gonna die. Everybody’s gotta live before you know the reason why.” Perhaps this sums up the feeling of the film. (Becky Tan)

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