Mon père, ce héros

Mon père, ce hérosSynopsis: Andre (Depardieu) is a long-suffering divorcee on holiday in Mauritius where he is forced to pose as his teenage daughter’s (Gillain) older lover so that she can pique the interest of local hunk Benjamin (Mille).  

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Mon père, ce héros 7.25

eyelights: Gérard Depardieu. Marie Gillain. the French locales.
eyesores: the characters’ moral weakness. the conventional third act.

‘Mon père, ce héros’ is a 1991 motion picture starring Gérard Depardieu, then at the height of his international popularity following the massive successes of “Cyrano de Bergerac‘ and ‘Green Card’. It was a big enough hit that it actually spawned a 1994 American remake, also starring Depardieu – and which was in turn a massive failure.

It’s the story of a divorced father taking his 14-year-old daughter to a beach-side resort for the holiday season, and of the awkward dynamic between them as she tries to impress everyone at the resort – first by dressing sexy to attract attention and then by telling tall tales, pretending that he’s a spy or that he’s her lover, not her father.

Tensions mount at the resort as everyone judges the oblivious father, who wonders why people are looking down at him. Meanwhile, he tries to divert attention from his daughter, who catches the eye of an older man and a few teenaged boys – one of whom she really likes, but who is too intimidated by her fictional father to make a move.

Honestly, these characters would normally all annoy me: The father is incapable of standing up to his daughter, and has spoiled her. As for the daughter, she is so dishonest that she’s despicable. The boy she’s chasing after is already in a relationship and treats both girls with disrespect. There’s very little to redeem them.

But the lies are funny enough that they overcome the contemptible nature of the characters; they’re so outrageous at times that you can’t help but chuckle. And even though the father enables his daughter, even partaking in it at some point to help her out, instead of correcting her behaviour, it somehow remains amusing.

Part of the picture’s greatest quality are the performances by Depardieu and Marie Gillain, as his daughter. Both are entirely credible in the parts and play them like real characters, not like cartoon characters in a sitcom – a mistake that would usually take place in an American equivalent (and, no, I don’t plan to see the remake to find out!).

The setting also brings redemption to the picture, being a beautiful French locale – something I have a weakness for. The sandy beaches, the architecture, the lovely French women (and the men, too, for those who are interested). I can’t explain why I love this setting so much, but it sure beats anything that can be found in North America.

‘Mon père, ce héros’ is no great cinema, but it’s an enjoyable light comedy. It’s a terrific Saturday afternoon viewing experience and it’s certainly something I would recommend to fans of Gérard Depardieu, who shows the sensitivity and subtlety that has made him the box office star he once was – before he became a big drunk oaf.

My hero.

Date of viewing: April 29, 2015

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