The reported death of the serious, small drama -- the kind of things that major studios used to do before opening-weekend grosses became all-important; the kind of thing that indie production companies used to do before the major studios bought them up and made opening-weekend grosses all-important -- may be a little premature, but that doesn't mean that the genre isn't going through some rough times. Within the world of The Father of My Children, that poses a problem for Grégoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), a producer who stakes his reputation on his unswerving commitment to serious filmmaking and now faces the collapse of everything he's worked for. For the film itself, it means that the latest work by young director Mia Hansen-Løve enters a market where a serious and thoughtful approach to a story is always welcome.
That Father bears a striking resemblance to last year's Summer Hours isn't really a surprise -- Hansen-Løve has a personal relationship with HOURS' director Olivier Assayas, and seems to parallel his skill in portraying with candid empathy how people handle tragic loss and deal with the practical decisions that have to be made regardless of such tragedy. Where Father diverges is in its tighter focus: looking primarily, as the title suggests, on the impact Canvel's actions have on his wife, Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) and his children, particularly his similarly headstrong daughter Clémence (Alice de Lencquesaing -- daughter of Louis-Do). The result remains a moving drama that demonstrates that there are still stories compelling enough to tell without the intervention of massive pyrotechnics and CG monsters, and filmmakers still agile enough to tell them.
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