Fans of the inimitable chronicler of Marseilles life, Robert Guédiguian, will be touched by this, perhaps his most healtfelt movie to date. Intercutting his story with a modern re-working of the Nativity (immigrants in a portside warehouse), he describes the relationship of two long-term, but also long-separated lovers, Natacha (Ariane Ascaride), a paediatrician, and Jérémie (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), a globe-trotting socialist political activist. The former has fallen into a catatonic stupor; the latter is taking furlough from his work. This is a film about the loss of spirit, notably for the socially and politically concerned whose idealism is challenged by the intransigent nature of the world. ‘Do we stop or do we carry on?’ is Jérémie’s repeated question, both in staged flashbacks to when they lived together and also standing as a more general question. Adding a third element in the story of a pregnant 14-year-old Natacha is protecting, Guédiguian takes an adventurous approach to structure, but exhibits his usual consummate encouragement of performances and milieu, creating an atmosphere of righteous anger and humanistic enchantment.
My Father is an Engineer
Cast and crew