The Belier Family – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

December 13, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Laughter is said to be universal but humour does not always translate well between countries. This outing from director Eric Lartigau (The Big Picture) has been a huge hit in France, and while it does have charm, I don’t see the enormous appeal.

The Belier family run a dairy farm in rural France.  They are all deaf–  except for 16 year old Paula (Louane Emera).  She is indispensible as interpreter for her mother Gigi (Karin Viard), father Rodolphe (Francois Damiens) and younger brother Quentin (Luca Gelberg).

Gigi and Rodolphe may be deaf but they are not stupid and it’s distracting that they are played in a rather demented fashion in early scenes – something which I didn’t find particularly funny.

Despite that, it is likeable.  Emera is engaging as Paula although it is not until she smiles that I realised just how lovely she is– but that’s teenagers for you.  In spite of the parental antics, this is a film with great heart and you appreciate just how much depends on Paula when, with aplomb, she conducts family business by phone on the way to school.

When the cute new boy at school, Ilian (Gabriel Chevignon), signs up for choir, she signs up too.  It turns out she has an exceptional voice and music teacher Fabien Thomasson (Eric Elmosnino ) suggests she is good enough to try out for music school in Paris.

There are themes that we can relate to. Small towns losing services, big business buying up agricultural land for other purposes, progress makes the same inroads in France as anywhere else.  When Rodolphe decides to run for mayor in the upcoming elections the story gains some depth.  Paula hides her involvement in the choir and her desire for a different future just as Rodolphe’s campaign heats up.

The final scenes are moving, especially when we get an inkling of how it feels to be deaf. Elmosnino plays the music teacher with passion and intensity and Roxane Duran is delightful as Paula’s best friend Mathilde .

In the end, the strength of the family’s love for each other shines through.  Some things do translate.

3/5  2014 106mins Rated M Out December 26

Starring Karin Viard, Francois Damiens, Eric Elmosnino, Louane Emera.

Directed by Eric Lartigau

In French with subtitles

Written and adapted by Victoria Bedos, , Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carre de Malberg , Eric Lartigau

Music  by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine

 

 

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