Affaire de famille

Affaire de familleSynopsis: An ordinary father, a devoted wife, a studious daughter…The life of this seemingly content family is turned upside down by the discovery of a sports bag full of bank notes. Soon the outward image is shattered and the game of pretence begins…

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Affaire de famille 8.0

eyelights: the clever construction of the picture. the black humour. André Dussollier. Miou-Miou.
eyesores: the other cast members.

‘Affaire de famille’ is a 2008 French black comedy about the impact of a heist on an everyday family, when the money is found in their home. What makes it interesting is that it takes place within 24 hours and is told from three different perspectives: the father, the mother and the daughter.

Starring André Dussollier and Miou-Miou, it’s a delicious little number that likely didn’t get much notice despite having won awards for Best European Picture at the Festival du Film d’Avignon and the Best First Screenplay Trophy from the Centre national de la cinématographie.

It’s a darned shame.

‘Affaire de famille’ is sharp and witty. Its plot is simple, but its elements are intricately woven together and there are some nice twists along the way – without being especially convoluted. In that way, it’s reminiscent of ‘Memento‘ – but not nearly as challenging or clever.

‘Affaire de famille’ is divided in three clear chapters (one for each character), with a prologue (which gives us a step-by-step of the heist at a football stadium) and an epilogue showing us the final developments. The moment I saw the first chapter title, I knew it would be a good time.

I really enjoyed how we first got to see the incidents from the mother’s perspective, forcing to make to all sorts of assumptions about the other characters – only to discover that we had misjudged them all along. It was a fine balancing act on the part of the writers and director.

The characters were interesting, too. The father is an ex-football player who has let his family run his life and finally makes a stand. The mother is entirely devoted to her family and her business, but is shaken by the turns of events. The daughter dreams of something bigger than this mundane existence.

This naturally hinges on the performances. Dussollier and Miou-Miou deliver like mad: we completely understand what they feel and their perspectives aren’t lost on us. Sadly the other actors weren’t nearly as strong. They were good, but they were entirely overshadowed by these two seasoned veterans.

To say anything more about the plot or the characters would be pure folly; it would deprive new viewers from savouring the unfolding of its many layers for the first time. So I will leave it at that: ‘Affaire de famille’ may seem like nothing much, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable picture.

Just see it. You might enjoy it too.

Date of viewing: November 19, 2014

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