First Hit: This is a very sweet and telling story which shows that love can sneak up on anyone and shake their world.
Despite the clunky loud and distracting opening credits where there is a jackhammer sound in the background, the film falls quickly into being a very strong mood piece.
The film is about a couple, their son, and how close they are and what happens to their relationships when one of them is deeply moved in another direction. The couple, Jean and Anne-Marie (played by Vincent Lindon and Aure Atika respectively), is loving and attentive to each other and their son.
The opening sequence after the credits is precious. The family is on a picnic and the son is asking grammar homework questions. The parents are stumped but try to find the answer. The tone and mood is that they are a simple couple, she works in a factory, he is in construction and what kids learn in school is beyond their knowledge. Their life is about enjoying the simple things.
Their son, Jeremy (played by Arthur Le Houerou) is about 10 years old. His father picks him up from school one day and meets with his teacher Veronique Chambon (played by Sandrine Kiberlain). She invites him to speak at Jeremy’s school on the kind of work he does.
The scene is absolutely precious because you see her heart being slightly lifted from behind a deep veil of pain and he is slightly taken aback at the children’s enthusiasm for what he does. The relationship between Veronique and Jean grows and the tension of unsaid feelings of love are wonderfully etched in their faces but not in their words to each other.
Lindon is perfect as the lifetime construction worker who does his job well, treats his family with love and respect and despite his slightly gruff and restrained exterior, a sweetheart of a man. Atika, is beautiful and her work here, although limited, is wonderful and clear. Kiberlain is extraordinary. She gives enough information with only her eyes and expressions to allow you to know her deeply and intimately. Her pain and sorrow are deep and her violin is her only dear friend. Stephane Brize as director and shares writing credits created a wonderfully executed slice of life, real life.
Overall: Probably a bit slow for most US citizens, it is a wonderfully paced film about how one’s world can be rocked very quickly.