Breaking up but not forgetting in Un enfant de toi by Jacques Doillon
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The French director’s latest film tells the story of a separated couple getting back together. Among the cast, Lou Doillon and an adorable child actress
It has the claim to fame of being the longest film in the Rome festival (143 minutes). And when the spectator realises that it is also the most densely scripted – it is composed almost exclusively of dialogues – a shiver passes through them (well, that is what it was like for the person writing this): how will time ever pass? But Un enfant de toi [+see also:
film profile], Jacques Doillon’s latest piece of work, presented in competition during the International Rome Film Festival, runs and captivates attention around one topic (the ménage a trois). It is touched on so many times, it verges on obsession, in typical French style (a recurring theme for the director, whose penultimate film is entitled The Three-Way Wedding [+see also:
The film takes you in thanks to the quality of its dialogue, good, if a little too literary (there is a moment in which the characters actually say to each other “stop it with your theatrical jokes”). Aya (played by the director and Jane Birkin’s daughter, the sophisticated Lou Doillon) and Louis (Samuel Benchetrit) have been separated for a few years. Both of them have found new partners. She is with Victor (Malik Zidi), a dentist, who wants to have a child, and he is with Gaelle (newcomer Marilyne Fontaine), a student, still too young to think about having a family. Throughout nine secret encounters (not one too many), the film tells the story of how passion between two people can slowly be reborn after separation when there is still so much to say to each other. Lina, their seven-year-old daughter played by talented and irresistible novice Olga Milshtein, is their accomplice.
In the mean time, Aya is torn between one man and the other, she hesitates, gives in, then comes back on her decision. “Life is closer to the absurd than to something coherent,” said Lou Doillon, "I was brought up with people who understand the nuances in relationships. In Jacques Doillon’s dialogues, I find those life movements again. Feelings are ambiguous.”
In a film filled with so much talking, it is difficult not to think of Eric Rohmer: "I really like Rohmer’s work,” the director explained, “but with all due respect, we went further than that work with our actors. People in the Nouvelle Vague were more timid, they limited themselves to repeating jokes. I must admit that I find some of Rohmer’s films quite difficult."
After the world premiere at the Rome Film Festival, Un enfant de toi will be in French theatres from December 26 with Sophie Dulac Distribution.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.