UN AIR DE FAMILLE “FAMILY RESEMBLANCES”

"Godless recriminations"

NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

A little too talky and confined, UN AIR DE FAMILLE is based on a play about an argumentative family birthday celebration in a small French café. Although there is no implied or depicted sex, this French movie includes plenty of obscenities, including the "F" word. It also presents a godless, but ultimately somewhat moral, worldview about marriage and family relationships.

Review:

E: Godless recriminations

TITLE: UN AIR DE FAMILLE “FAMILY RESEMBLANCES”

Quality: * * * Acceptability: -1

SUBTITLES: French with English subtitles —

RATING: Not rated by MPAA

RELEASE: July 1998

TIME: 108 minutes

STARRING: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jean-Pierre Daroussin, Catherine Frot, Agnes Jaoui, Claire Maurier, Wladimir Yordanoff

DIRECTOR: Cedric Klapisch

CHIEF PRODUCER: Charles Gassot

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Jacques Hinstin

WRITERS: Agnes Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri & Cedric Klapisch from a play by Jaoui & Bacri

DISTRIBUTOR: Leisure Time Features

GENRE: Drama

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Older teenagers & adults

REVIEWER: Dr. Tom Snyder

CONTENT: (H, B, LLL, V, A, D, M) Humanist worldview with some moral elements, including a sense of the biblical concept of people’s sinful nature; 27 obscenities, zero profanities & 6 vulgarities; one brief scene of two men fighting; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as adult family members arguing.

Adapting a play for the movies is hard to do. The final effort can seem talky, confined and stagy, or the filmmakers will insert gratuitous outdoor scenes or other such tricks to “open up” the play. That’s why musical plays such as ON THE TOWN or THE SOUND OF MUSIC translate so much more successfully – there is all that music that seems to lend itself to movement and dancing. Good characterization can still save the day, however, when it comes to dramatic material. Such is the case with the award-winning French movie, UN AIR DE FAMILLE (or FAMILY RESEMBLANCES), which just reached our shores.

The whole movie centers on an argumentative birthday gathering between two brothers and their sister at the family’s small café, which is now run by one of the brothers, Henri. The celebration is for the other brother, Philippe’s, wife, Yolande. The sister, Betty, is the first to show up at Henri’s place, Sleepy Dad’s Cafe. A pretty black-haired woman, Betty tells Henri’s only employee, Denis, a thin, balding and good-natured man, that she wants to break off their brief relationship.

Philippe and Yolande soon arrive with Philippe, Henri and Betty’s mother, a critical middle-aged woman. They all wait for Henri’s wife, Arlette, to show up so they can go out to dinner. Henri hides the fact, however, that his wife has called to say she wants to separate from him for one week so she can think about the future of their marriage. She tells Henri that he is “inconsiderate.” When the family eventually finds out, they decide to stay at the café so that Henri can have some company.

Henri would rather have been left alone, however, since recriminations soon flow among the three siblings and their widowed mother. The mother and Philippe think Henri is too much like their dad who they feel was not ambitious enough. Philippe is worried about a TV interview he did that day for his company. He keeps asking the family what they thought about it, but he is not satisfied with all the little things they mention, so he begins to worry about his job. His concern increases near the end of the movie when Betty reveals she just told off their mean boss at the company. Philippe helped Betty get her job, and he feels her “hysteria” will further damage his reputation. Of course, there is no evidence that the TV interview was really that bad, it just begins to seem that way to Philippe. As Henri points out, “If you think too much, you’ll find fault everywhere.”

Caught in the middle of all the family bickering and recriminations are Denis and Yolande. They are the most sympathetic of the six characters, and the most fun part of the movie is watching them try to cope with the situation. Denis even offers some good advice to the other characters and agrees to dance with Yolande when her mother-in-law’s gift of a coupon for a puppy disappoints her. As Betty herself remarks, “Dogs get treated best in our family.”

Despite the complex, vivid characterizations and fine acting, many audience members may still find FAMILY RESEMBLANCES too talky and confined. Most of the movie takes place in the three rooms of Henri’s café, and the characters always seem to have something to say to one another.

Morally speaking, the movie appears to respect the value of marriage since it leads us to root for Henri’s reconciliation with his wife and for Betty to settle down with Denis, who loves her, but it presents a secular, and thus humanist, worldview of marriage and family. God is not profaned in UN AIR DE FAMILLE, but God is not thanked, worshipped or mentioned, either. Finally, although there is no implied or depicted sex and nudity here, the movie does include plenty of obscenities, including the “F” word.

Content:

(H, B, LLL, V, A, D, M) Humanist worldview with some moral elements, including a sense of the biblical concept of people's sinful nature; 27 obscenities, zero profanities & 6 vulgarities; one brief scene of two men fighting; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as adult family members arguing.

In Brief:

In the award-winning French movie, UN AIR DE FAMILLE (or FAMILY RESEMBLANCES), two brothers, their sister and their mother gather for a birthday celebration for one of the brothers' wives. Recriminations soon flow among the three siblings and their widowed mother. Caught in the middle is the sister-in-law and the other brother's employee, Denis, who is in love with the sister.

Despite the complex, vivid characterizations and fine acting, many audience members may find FAMILY RESEMBLANCES too talky and confined. Most of the movie takes place in the three rooms of brother Henri's café, and the characters always seem to have something to say to one another. Morally speaking, the movie appears to respect the value of marriage since it leads us to root for brother Henri's reconciliation with his own wife, who is not there, and also to root for the sister to settle down with Denis, but the movie presents a secular, and thus humanist, worldview of marriage and family. God is not profaned in UN AIR DE FAMILLE, but God is not thanked, worshipped or mentioned, either. Finally, although there is no implied or depicted sex and nudity here, the movie includes plenty of obscenities, including the "F" word.

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