Tender regrets in Jean-Paul Rouve's Quand je serai petit
by Aurore Engelen
11/06/2012 - Mathias never properly mourned his father. He knows that he died suddenly from leukaemia, but, to spare him, was never really allowed to mourn him. Today, Mathias is 40, has a fulfilling career as a landscape architect, a beautiful loving wife, and a delightful little daughter. He has everything to make him happy on paper, but a piece of the puzzle is missing for him to be truly happy. On a cruise with his wife, he spots a 10-year-old boy who looks extremely familiar. The little boy is him, he is certain of this, as if he had been tele-transported back in time. Mathias will do everything he can to find him, and to see his father again, even if this means neglecting his own role as a husband and father.
Quand je serai petit [trailer] (lit. "When I am younger") is Jean-Paul Rouve's second feature film. The latter was discovered in the Robins des Bois theatre company, then as an actor in Monsieur Batignole (for which he won the Cesar for most promising actor) and in Those Happy Days. In 2008, he made his first film, The Easy Way [trailer], a biopic about Albert Spaggiari, the French criminal from Nice who organised the "break-in of the century" retold in the film. In his second film, Jean-Paul Rouve has adopted a new and daring narrative style. Starting from a fantastic premise (In the present, a man meets his family aged 30 years younger, and he decides to fix what can be fixed of the past), the filmmaker tells a realistic tale, without ever trying to explain the time-travelling mystery that makes the story possible in the first place. The audience may not be entirely convinced by the method, but they can at least let themselves be seduced by this tender portrait of a rather unusual midlife crisis. Rapidly, the fantastic elements in the story make way for a bitter-sweet comedy that gives hints of an answer to the question that we all ask ourselves: If I were to relive it, would I change anything? Around him (he plays the main character), the director has brought together a strong and convincing cast: the young Miljan Chatelain, the sublime Arly Jover, Miou-Miou, Claude Brasseur, Xavier Beauvois, Lisa Martino, Gilles Lellouche in the peripheral roles, and, especially, Benoît Poelvoorde as the father, whom he plays with great tenderness.
Quand je serai petit is a sort of philosophical tale about remorse, regrets, and new beginnings, but is, at times, a little too sentimentalist. Overall, it is quite predictable, especially when Matthias splits into two when he symbolically abandons his daughter to repair the mistakes that his own parents made with him... The actors, and especially the director, however deliver impeccable performances, and he manages to make the beaches of north Belgium (where he is from) seem both warm and melancholy. And Emilie Simon has composed some catchy and seductive tunes for the film's original soundtrack. All in all, you leave the cinema convinced by the actors, and full of kindness and understanding for this tough yet beautiful adventure that is fatherhood.
Quand je serai petit is produced by Elia Films, in co-production with Les Films du Monsieur, Mars Film, and Scope Pictures, with the support of the CRRAV and the Nord-Pas de Calais region, as well as the CNC. The film was screened at the opening of the Brussels Film Festival last Friday, and will be released in France by Mars Distribution on June 13 and in Belgium by les Films de l'Elysée on July 25.
(Translated from French)