DVD: Father of My Children (15)

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The Independent Culture

Grégoire, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing's charming art-house film producer, spends the first six minutes of Mia Hansen-Løve's skilfully paced drama attached to his mobile, consoling work colleagues and family ("say something nice," he prods his daughter before their chat ends), all the while chain-smoking and driving over the limit without a seatbelt. Grégoire appears unruffled, a middle-aged man who copes insouciantly with his demanding job, and is blessed with a beautiful, understanding wife and three adorable, bright daughters. Not to mention his country house retreat and Parisian flat.

It can't last. He owes millions of euros to various lenders, his "worthy" movies are box-office poison and he's forever placating egotistical film folk, including his potentially mutinous crew and his needy leading man. A friend tells him "Everyone admires you, but no one helps." He needs help, but we see little discernible pain from Grégoire. We sense something dreadful is coming, but when it does it's still shocking.

Hansen-Løve carefully outlines the aftermath of Gregoire's self-centred decision; his wife is confronted with a mountain of debt and his oldest daughter (beautifully played by De Lencquesaing's own teenage daughter, Alice) tries to unravel the reasons why.

Father of my Children is exquisitely acted, unsentimental and very moving, particularly the scenes in which the daughters try to impress/entertain their parents.

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