While Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is best known as an actress (and by some as the older sister of Carla Bruni), she is also an occasional writer-director. This is her third movie in that capacity, and while it certainly doesn’t suggest she should give up the day job, it's a very decent effort in many respects.
Bruni Tedeschi takes the lead role as Louise, a retired unmarried actress in her forties, and sister of the ailing Ludovic (based on her own brother, to whom the film is dedicated, and played by Filippo Timi). Her desire for children may or may not be fulfilled when she meets and is pursued by the somewhat younger Nathan (Louis Garrel, until recently Tedeschi’s real-life partner), who is also in doubt about his acting career. If the film can be said to centre on anything, it’s on Louise’s relationships with these two men, though it’s actually an ensemble piece which finds ample room for her mother (Marisa Borini, Tedeschi’s mother), an alcoholic artist (a well cast Xavier Beauvois), Ludovic’s girlfriend and Nathan’s parents.
Such plot as there is focuses on the need for Louise’s family – still wealthy but in financial, physical and even spiritual decline – to sell their sumptuous home and its contents in order to get by. Happily, Bruni Tedeschi never applies a heavy moralising touch to the proceedings, preferring to opt mainly for gentle, slightly dark comedy, even when death and mourning are involved. She’s helped considerably by a fine cast (including the too seldom seen Marie Riviere and Andre Wilms), but in the end it’s Bruni Tedeschi’s sure grasp of the milieu – and in particular her acute understanding of the specific foibles of a rich, arty but out-of-touch class nostalgic for an earlier era – that makes the film a modest but surprisingly substantial delight.