How I Killed My Father


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

How I Killed My Father
"The film works at a depth that would drown Hollywood." | Photo: UniFrance

If anything can be typically French, this is. It disguises the truth of the matter beneath layers of sophistication. It is not what you feel that is visible but how you perceive yourself coping with rejection.

A successful doctor (Charles Berling) behaves with restraint and discretion, for all the world a happily married man. His wife (Natacha Regnier) plays her marital role with dedication, while suffering in silence for the children she has been told she cannot conceive. The doctor's father (Michel Bouquet) arrives in Versailles after a lifetime working in Africa. He deserted his wife and sons when the doctor was four years old.

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There are scars here and there are wounds. The father, who is 75, feels sympathy for the wife. They have a connection, more like a friendship, and the doctor is not happy, as if he has lost control. Meanwhile, his mistress (Amira Casar) stirs from the complacency of infatuation into a threatening position.

The film works at a depth that would drown Hollywood. Nothing is simple, nothing black-and-white. The colours are dark, the emotions locked, the relationships unfulfilled. Success is seen as a sham. Commitment has no meaning when it can be tossed aside so casually. Life is a game where the rules change.

Slowly, with infinite subtlety, a fragile belief in love is broken. In the end, there is no wisdom, only work and a little hope.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2002
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The impact of a prodigal father on the family of his eldest son, a successful doctor in Versailles.
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Director: Anne Fontaine

Writer: Jacques Fieschi, Anne Fontaine

Starring: Michel Bouquet, Charles Berling, Natacha Regnier, Stephane Guillon, Amira Casar

Year: 2001

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France/Spain


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