Period of Adjustment: Coping with Sudden Loss
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"La vie quand même (LIFE AFTER ALL) is another film in a series collectively called 'Tales from the Orphanage'. The story is simple on the surface (children coping with the sudden loss of parents), but in the hands of writer Sophie Tasma and director Olivier Péray this storyline unfolds a tale of brotherly love that is well worth watching.
The film opens with a family argument between father (Laurent Olmédo) and mother (Françoise Michaud), a scene that is apparently routine in this disturbed household. But this time the couple's two children 18-year-old Vincent (Mathieu Tribes) and 11-year-old Lucien (Maxime Monsimier) not only overhear the fight but Vincent defies his father in a stringent manner. The mother attempts to assuage the situation as the parents are leaving on a trip. But once the parents leave they are killed in an accident and the two boys are informed of the abrupt loss. Vincent loves Lucien and vows to remain his legal guardian so that Lucien will not be placed in a foster home or orphanage.
The two boys react differently to their new life without parents: 1) Vincent begins to sleep with his girlfriend Jessica (Clémence Poésy) and at the same time tries to lose his thoughts in a consignation with longtime neighbor Marion (Marianne Basler), all the while dealing with social workers, convincing them he is a fit guardian for Lucien. and 2) Lucien begins to act out his pain in antisocial behavior, following a delusional path that his parents are not only still alive but are still at home with Lucien and Vincent.
How each brother works through the guilt (Vincent) and broken spirit (Lucien) of the loss of their parents forms the line of the conclusion of the film. The power of brotherly love is palpable and manages to provide avenues of coping with tragic loss.
The film's weakness is in the pacing of the story with too much time being devoted to Vincent's escapades and insufficient development of Lucien's character and transformation. Despite these flaws this is a touching film of significant situational reactions played in a realistic manner. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp, August 05
A Four Star Rental Film, But Three if You Buy
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 05/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LIFE AFTER ALL is not one of those films that I missed in the theatre and could not wait to see or one I saw and had to own. I'm not sure how I even became interested in the film. It's just one I stumbled upon either by reading the jacket in a video store or by viewing the trailer of another film.
Now if I were renting this film, I'd probably give it four stars (of five). It is a good evening's entertainment. It tells the story of two brothers, Vincent who is the oldest and Lucien who loose their parents in a car accident and the ways the two cope with the loss. The film is original. The opening scene depicts the family fighting and when Vincent confronts his father, we are certain we're meeting a spoiled brat who probably has a list of troubles. We soon realize that Vincent is not a troubled teen, the family is emotional, and the fighting may not mean all that much. This is not to say that Vincent does not feel guilty that his last words to his father were unkind, but he soon realizes he's a member of a high strung family. The film could easily be a troubled teen changes his ways after the death of his parents and realizes he has responsibilities, but it does not go in that direction. Instead Vincent is a typical teen who is a good student and has a promising future. He wants to do what is right but is overwhelmed by the changes in his younger brother. For an evening's rental it's a good take.
Now if you're planning on purchasing this film, keep in mind it's not a masterpiece of French cinema. If I judged it after purchasing it, I might be disappointed and would only give it three stars. I guess I'm pickier when more money is involved. The story has some weaknesses. The parents die in an accident and the father's drinking may be the cause. Yet Lucien is able to keep the whole matter a secret from his school. With a social worker involved, as well as the publicity that such a death would cause, is it realistic that no one at school or none of his friends' parents would not know about the death? Vincent has two intense relationships: one with his girlfriend and the other with a next door neighbor who is his late mother's best friend. The first is believable. A young man who is hormonally charged eager to enjoy the pleasures of adulthood no longer has parents who might restrict his behavior. He could have such an intense relationship with the girlfriend, but the neighbor is far fetched and with the background music that accompanies the times they're together, it's hard to tell if it's serious or a joke. The film also has an ending that seems to easy for me, especially in a French film, but of rearranged a bit would add a tension that could make this a better film.