Father of My Children Deserves Cannes Accolades

The Father of My Children (Le père de mes enfants)
Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve
Les Films Pélleas, in French with subtitles,110 mins.
* * * * *
This film won the Jury Special Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Set in Paris, Grégoire Canvel, a happily married father of three daughters, plays a struggling independent film producer for Moon Studios who juggles family life with his increasingly failing projects. For years he has supported a small film laboratory and wilfully obscure film auteurs but things are getting worse: he’s out of money, banks are seeking to collect on his soaring debt, and his family is frustrated by his obsessions. Somehow he seems to cope but it becomes evident that things are getting worse. On a vacation forced upon him by his wife we see him glued to his cell phone—much to the annoyance of all around him. On his return to Paris, he realizes he can no longer keep this balance. He takes his car into the French village, burns some correspondence, and shoots himself.

This is the first half of the film: slow, deliberate, exacting and detailed—his two lives, coiled around each other like snakes poised to attack each other. Brilliantly filmed as only the French can do in a Rohmer- and Truffault-style, Grégoire’s suicide is almost too shocking to visualize. Wisely Hansen-Love cuts from any discovery of the body or lingering sadness over the funeral, to the struggles involved with Moon Pictures, its remaining business problems, and his family’s attempt to cope. It seems Canvel was a father not only to his own children, but to Moon’s extended family: directors, lab technicians, office staff, aspirant documentarians….

Canvel is played with damaged intensity by Louis-Do de Lancquesaing, and his wife Sylvia by Chiara Caselli, who shows remarkable restraint in her devastation over the tragedy as she tries to save the company. The oldest daughter is de Lancquesaing’s actual thirteen-year-old offspring, Alice, adrift in adolescence, tormented by her loss, struggling to understand the depression that drove her father to end everything, resistant to moving to Italy as suggested by her mother. A long take in which the family drives out of Paris and Alice may be seeing the city for the last time, was excruciating to watch. We witness her fighting back tears over everything that has happened as her new life stretches out in front of her.

Sometime Cahiers du Cinema critic Mia Hansen-Løve made an impressive debut with her 2007 feature *Everything Is Forgiven.* Only 27, her assured screenplay is based loosely on the life of French film producer Humbert Balsan, who committed suicide himself and Hansen-Løve was a victim of the cutbacks after that tragedy. After the recent Oscars awards, it’s criminal that this feature was ignored. This film should not be missed.

Lloyd Sellus


Stanley Cup Round One Predictions

The race for Lord Stanley's cup is upon us.

The Stanley Cup has lost some luster this year because Olympic hockey was just so darn good that the NHL has a tough act to follow. Those of us who are Puck Heads will be following nonetheless. Here are my predictions for Round One. (Disclaimer: I’m a Rangers fan, so what the heck do I know?)


1. Washington over Montreal in five: Les Canadiens are small, scoring-challenged, and have a roster full of Ranger castoffs. The Capitals, by contrast, have Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s best offensive player. If one of Montreal’s goalies gets hot this could go six, but I doubt it.

2. New Jersey over Philadelphia in five: Philly shouldn’t even be here and pretty much stunk up the ice after the Olympics break. The Devils, by contrast, have Zach Parise, sniper Ilya Kovalchuck, and the magnificent Marty Brodeur, the Marino Rivera of goaltenders.

3. Buffalo over Boston in six: And the Bruins really have no business being here—no goal scoring, a defense that goes to sleep for long stretches, a rotten power play, and goaltending that makes impossible stops but gives up soft goals. This will go six only because the Sabres are dealing with key injuries and goalie Ryan Miller can’t carry the whole load.

4. Pittsburgh over Ottawa in six: This one will be tougher than the oddsmakers think. On paper, Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, Federenko, Staal, and Fleury look unbeatable; in actual matches, though, the defending Cup champs have looked lackluster and disinterested at times. Ottawa is a streaky team that can catch fire. In addition, Daniel Alfredsson is vastly underrated and a player that gets under the skin and causes impatient teams—like the Penguins—to make mistakes. The Sens will make this more interesting than it should be, though superior talent will win out.


1. San Jose over Colorado in seven: Another match that shouldn’t be close, but will be. I picked the Sharks to win it all last year and they choked like they swallowed a chicken bone. With Thornton, Marleau, and Heatly upfront, the Sharks on paper retain one of the most-skilled rosters in the league. Alas, games are played on the ice and the Sharks always manage to jump the shark. They’ll have enough to (barely) get by the young Avs, but then will flame out in round two.

2. Chicago over Nashville in seven: This will be a battle royal between the offensive-minded Blackhawks and the defensive Predators. Kane and Toews alone have more offensive power than the entire Nashville roster and thus will prevail, but it won’t be easy.

3. Vancouver over Los Angeles in six: For insomniacs, this will be must-TV. I’ve long admired the Canucks, but the Kings have Jon Quick, ex-UMass goalie, in the pipes so my loyalties are divided. Methinks, though, that the talented Sedin brothers and the experience of Roberto Luongo will be too much for the young Kings squad.

4. Detroit over Phoenix in five: Nobody—and I mean nobody—wanted the Wings in round one. Here’s a team that was on the verge of a DNQ in February and ended up with the sixth best record in the league. It’s all due to one reason: the Wings are healthy now. Cleary, Datsyuk, Filppula, Franzen, Holstrom, Lindstrom, Rafalski, Zetterberg…. Are you kidding me? If they stay healthy the Cup’s coming back to Motown. As for the Coyotes, they are hockey version of the 2008 Tampa Rays—overachievers for whom reality is about to dawn.