Film Review: THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (Le pere de mes enfants)

Written and Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
May, 2010
Starring: Louis do de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caseli, Eric Elmosino, Alice de Lensquesaing
110 Minutes
In French

We are fortunate in Detroit to have the Detroit Film Theater, part of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which shows films like this one almost every weekend. We also have two art houses with films that come through Landmark Films. We have a small theater, the Burton, in an old elementary school, which has a varied program with unusual fare. For all its hardships, Detroit is still a major city with vast cultural offerings. People sometimes forget, when they think of Detroit, that it has many fine things to offer throughout its metropolitan area of over four million people.

PLOT: Gregoire Canvel is a bustling, outwardly successful film producer in France, even opening his pockets to films being made outside of the country by financially irresponsible directors. He is also a devoted, if often absent, father and husband to his three daughters and wife. The first half of the film concerns itself with Gregoire’s attempts to mend the holes in his pockets before everything falls through them. He is a compelling, captivating character and we don’t quite understand how he’s allowed this debt to overwhelm him. He doesn’t share his distress with anyone but the audiences, and when he takes his life, his family, friends and employees are more surprised than we are. (Apparently much of this narrative describes the circumstances of producer, Humbert Balsan, who financed films that no one else would touch).

The second half of the film deals with the reaction of his family to his death. The bustle of the first half is gone and instead we watch his wife try to hold things together both at home and at the studio. His girls, especially his oldest daughter (played by his real life daughter) are consumed with grief. We come to understand he’s mistaken his success as a producer as the sum of his life. But it is those who remain behind that really define him. And it is the very people he hoped to spare his disgrace that must find a way to go on.

This was a very fine film. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Hansen-Love follows up with.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.