Café de Flore (15)

Jean-Marc Vallée, 120mins. Starring: Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent

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The Independent Culture

Jean-Marc Vallée's ambitious family drama hopscotches between characters, continents and timeframes as it explores the anguish of love.

It sets down two parallel narratives, one involving a single mother (Vanessa Paradis) and her fierce devotion to her Down's syndrome son in late Sixties Paris, the other a renowned DJ (Kevin Parent) in present-day Montreal juggling responsibilities to his new love, his young daughters and his ex-wife (Hélène Florent, superb), who's still devastated by their break-up.

How the two stories connect is the film's slow reveal, and will not be to everyone's taste. Yet Vallée's understanding of the bonds and binds of family – specifically, close Catholic families – is as keen-eyed and sympathetic as it was in his earlier C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), while his modulations of mood through music are nicely handled.

Even if you don't buy the fey talk of "twin flames" and the late-arriving psychic who tries to explain it all, there's merit enough in the dreamy, Malick-style compositions and a handful of terrific performances.