The Father of My Children

Grégoire Canvel appears to have it all: a successful career as an independent film producer, a loving wife and three adorable daughters, a buzzing office in Paris and bucolic home in the countryside, and a sense of satisfaction befitting a middle-aged wheeler-dealer who has retained both his sense of humor and a full head of hair. Yet happiness is fleeting-certainly more so in unpredictable real life than in the cinematic fantasias he feverishly funds and obsessively oversees-and Grégoire grows increasingly despondent as familial demands and the prospect of financial ruin provide rude awakenings from his celluloid dreams. Based in part on circumstances surrounding the 2005 suicide of renowned producer Humbert Balsan, who tirelessly supported iconoclasts such as Claire Denis, Lars von Trier, and Béla Tarr, The Father of My Children is a wonderfully nuanced drama that confirms Mia Hansen-Løve as a major talent. As in her previous feature, All Is Forgiven (SFIFF 2008), the young yet wise-beyond-her-years writer/director unfolds her narrative deftly, with a refreshingly nonjudgmental perspective on her characters' foibles, exploring the often-unbridgeable gaps between personal choice and professional obligation, artistic freedom and the ties that bind. Hansen-Løve demonstrates a flair for observation and a sheer love of cinema characteristic of her onetime mentor, Olivier Assayas. With its directorial grace notes, unexpected side trips, and rueful farewell to the City of Light set to the swelling strains of “Que Sera, Sera,” The Father of My Children reveals that in life-as in movies-what will be, will be.

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