A remarkable debut from writer/director Veysset, this depiction of farm life in the south of France mercilessly explodes the sentimentality and picturesqueness of, say, Claude Berri's films. Autobiographically inspired, it focuses on the hard frugal life of a mother (Reymond) and her seven children. Cinematographer Hélène Louvart keeps the camera close to the family's field of vision, making the viewer a kind of house guest, witness to the intimate rituals of family life - it takes time to become familiar with the children's names and their relationships with their older, emotionally distant stepbrothers, and to realise that their tyrannical father is keeping another 'legitimate' family some miles away. No music guides our attitude, merely 'natural' sound and the evidence of our eyes. The period and time are deliberately vague. Veysset concentrates instead on incident and detail, and nurtures an array of naturalistic performances. Her cinematic maturity and clarity of vision allow her to express passionate feelings with impressive restraint, while her feminism is one of acute understanding, avoiding both censure of the Reymond character, for continuing to love a man who makes her suffer to the point of suicide, and demonisation of the father. A movie of majestic non-judgmental authenticity.
Cast and crew