Tuesday 7 May 2013

Our Children Review

The latest film from French director Joachim Lafosse deals with the topic of emigration and the obligations imposed upon and felt by those beholden to the apparent benevolent nature of an older father figure. Having fallen in love, Mounir (Tahar Rahim, A Prophet), and Murielle (Emilie Dequenne, Rosetta), a French native, marry and share the Moroccan home owned by Mounir and his benefactor, Doctor André Pinget (Niels Arestrup). Co-written by A Prophet and Rust and Bone screenwriter Thomas Bidegain, the film's episodic structure leads you to the heart of the tragedy that begins the film.

With a particularly outstanding performance by Emilie Dequenne, Our Children creates and ratchets up the tension within the film as we see how the weight of an emigrant culture of gratefulness impacts on Murielle.

As each of the couples' four children are born, the needs and hopes of Murielle become subservient and subsumed by the control of the men around her. It is not too great a stretch to liken Murielle's story to that of Kay's in the Godfather Part II. Unlike in Coppola's classic, Lafosse gradually makes the wife's story the central tragedy of the film. 

Shot often with close ups to add to the sense of foreboding in the film, Lafosse subtly but gradually demonstrates that the road to tragedy is often paved with good, though one sided intentions. Shifts in costume, tone and the three strong central performances from Dequenne, Rahim and Arestrup create an impactful piece of cinema which one might find difficult to shake off even hours after having seen the film. Though Our Children could not be categorise as enjoyable, it is significant and thought provoking in creating, if not empathy, then at least sympathy for those who might find themselves driven to truly reprehensible acts.

Our Children. France 2012. Directed by Joachim Lafosse. Starring Emilie Dequenne, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup... Out in the UK on the 10th of May 2013.

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