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Film Review: My Father’s Guests (Les invités de mon père)

Sue Williams - 04/07/13 - www.MyFrenchLife.org

English version (pour la version française, voir ci-dessous)

I approached the film My Father’s Guests with caution.

A comedy, said the blurb for Melbourne’s French Film Festival. About illegal immigration in France. I couldn’t imagine this serious topic could make for good comedy, especially not after seeing Philippe Lioret’s wonderful and heart-wringingly sad, award-winning film, Welcome last year.

Fortunately, I was wrong. My Father’s Guests is an excellent comedy. This witty, ironic film observes the family fallout when 80-year-old Lucien (Michel Aumont), a renowned humanitarian, marries an illegal immigrant, supposedly so she can stay in the country.

Lucien’s middle-aged son Arnaud (Fabrice Luchini) and daughter Babette (Karin Viard) aren’t exactly surprised, not until they meet the immigrant in question, Tatiana (Valérie Benguigui). She’s a young, beautiful blonde from the Republic of Moldova, who makes racist remarks. A chain-smoker, in designer jeans and fur coat, she looks like someone who would gladly hang out with a gangster. Not quite the refugee Babette and Arnaud were expecting Papa to rescue.

Some humanitarian acts are easier on the eye than others, wryly observes Arnaud, a wealthy business lawyer, who rebelled early against Lucien. But Babette, an idealistic GP, has always worshipped her father and can’t believe he would involve himself with someone so vulgar. And, worse still, can it really be possible – is he in love with her?

Viard as Babette and Luchini as Arnaud give inspired performances as they question their relationship with their father, leading them to review their own lives. Central to the film is this brother and sister’s gradual reconnection with each other.

Director, Anne Le Ny, and co-writer Luc Béraud, keep the tone humorous but never flippant. The film shifts to a more sombre note towards the end, with the siblings weighing up a moral dilemma, ultimately bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Serious subjects can obviously make for first-rate comedy.

Photo Credits:  http://www.frenchfilmfestival.org/Films.aspx?articleId=4493

Sue Williams - 04/07/13 - www.MyFrenchLife.org

Les invités de mon père

Traduit de l’anglais par Agnès Landou

J’ai abordé le film « Les invités de mon père » avec prudence.

Une comédie, selon l’affiche présentée  par le Festival du Film Français à Melbourne. Au sujet de l’immigration en France. Je ne pouvais pas imaginer que ce sujet sérieux puisse servir à faire une bonne comédie, surtout pas après avoir vu l’an dernier « Welcome » film du réalisateur Philippe Lioret qui a reçu récompense, film magnifique mais qui vous brise le cœur.

Cependant, je me trompais; « Les invités de mon père » est une excellente comédie. Ce film subtile, teinté d’ironie suit la chute d’une famille lorsqu’un humanitaire de renom Lucien (Michel Aumont) âgé de 80 ans se marie avec une immigrée afin qu’elle puisse rester dans le pays.

Les enfants de Lucien, Arnaud, d’âge moyen (Fabrice Luchini) et sa fille Babette (Karin Viard) ne sont pas vraiment surpris tant qu’ils n’ont pas rencontré l’immigrée en question, Tatiana (Valérie Benguigui). C’est une jeune beauté blonde venant de la République de Moldavie…qui  fait des réflexions racistes. En jeans design et manteau de fourrure, fumant cigarette après cigarette, elle ressemble à quelqu’un qui aurait volontiers traîné avec un gangster. Babette et Arnaud ne s’attendaient pas tout à fait à ce que leur père vienne en aide à ce genre de réfugiée….

Quelques actes humanitaires sont aux yeux de certains, plus faciles à accomplir que d’autres, ironise Arnaud, un avocat d’affaires fortuné qui auparavant, s’était déjà rebellé contre Lucien. Mais Babette, une médecin généraliste idéaliste, a toujours adoré son père et ne peut pas croire qu’il puisse s’impliquer avec quelqu’un d’aussi vulgaire. Et, encore pire, cela peut-il être possible – en est-il tombé amoureux ?

Viard en tant que Babette et Luchini en tant qu’Arnaud jouent superbement lorsqu’ils se posent des questions  au sujet de leurs relations avec leur père, ce qui les amène à revoir leurs propres vies. Au centre de ce film est ce rapprochement progressif entre le frère et la sœur.

La Directrice, Anne le Ny et le co-scénariste Luc Béraud gardent le ton humoristique mais jamais désinvolte. Le film passe à une note plus sombre vers la fin, faisant peser sur le frère et la sœur un dilemme moral pour finalement en arriver à une conclusion satisfaisante.

Les sujets sérieux  peuvent c’est évident, servir à faire une excellente comédie…



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3 Comments




  1. proletaire
    8 years ago

    Just watched the movie, on my computer.
    Nice movie but not quite my kind of movie. I want movies, cinema, to have pictures, photos, images in them. This one does to, and, yes, I agree, movies can be good and interesting without a big pictorial impact.

    The topic, helping immigrants find a better life, is a good one, especially so when the immigrants are not the expected ones. The immigrant mother and daughter are trying to find a better life, with the help of an elderly man who has lost his wife and interest in much of what life has left to offer him. His children have a good life, earn good money, but are not happy, and resent their father’s trying to help immigrants. And when the immigrant mother turns out to be a good-looking woman, trouble is on the way. On top of that, the mother’s daughter gets friendly with the elderly man’s grandson.
    The elderly man is enjoying the renewed interest in a woman’s life, to the point of cancelling his will and leaving all his wealth to the moldavian man and child. His daughter realises that she maybe has not lived her “own” life but rather followed her father’s wishes, and goes for a hot affair with her colleague. Still, son and daughter would rather get their father off this fling and back to the everyday usual thing rather than help a mother and daughter. Which they do eventually manage to achieve. I will leave some of the important parts so as not to spoil the story too much. But, again, for me, a good movie needs more good photos, pictures, visual art.

    The acting was average at the beginning, at best. But got better. Luchini is a master! Very articulate, very clever! Average interviewers must dread having to ask him questions! He is intelligent! Something heavily lacking in most films today.


  2. Elisabeth Donato
    8 years ago

    Congratulations for having written this both in English and French, something that I will try to emulate in future contributions to Ma Vie Francaise. You got me interested in viewing this film. I’ll try to get a hold of it…


  3. Sue Williams
    8 years ago

    Thanks for your comments! But I can’t take the credit for the translation into French – that part was done by Agnès Landou… my version would have had about a million errors in it 🙂