First Day of the Rest of Your Life DI
2008 Running time: 114 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life KA

Synopsis

Five key days over twelve years in the lives of the ever-so-slightly dysfunctional Duval family are the stepping off point for events that shape their colourful personal history. Director Remi Bezancon has delicately pieced together a rough-hewn tapestry of family life - from the 16-year-old daughter's reluctant virginity to the spirit-crushing anguish that follows the death of a parent. A rich and rewarding portrait of growing up.

Director

  • Remi Bezancon

Cast

  • Jacques Gamblin

  • Zabou Breitman

  • Deborah Francois

  • Marc-Andre Grondin

Review

We first meet the French Duval family courtesy of garish and grainy Super 8 home movies of them frolicking unlined and seemingly untroubled on a sunny beach.

Roll on a few years on and the tensions are beginning to come to the surface.

Chainsmoking dad Robert (Gamblin) resents the fact his disapproving father has paid for a family house that his earnings as a taxi driver won't cover.

Mum Marie-Jeanne (Breitman) looks on aghast as her sons Albert (Marmai) and Raphael (Grondin) leave the closely-knit family nest with varying degrees of success - Albert becomes a plastic surgeon and Raphael a serial slacker who eventually slopes home.

Sixteen-year-old daughter Fleur (Francois) is taking her first tentative steps into the world of adolescent sex and the teenage heartache of being dumped for the first time.

Writer-director Remi Bezancon proceeds to take key dates in the family's history to provide a vantage point from where to take a condition check on their emotional state.

There's is certainly an eventful life - mum ponders an affair with her driving instructor, Raphael develops an air guitar obsession and Albert is estranged from his dad when his grandfather's death puts a damper on his own wedding day.

For a story with so many sub-plots it's to Bazancon's credit that he keeps the psychological plates spinning without mishap. A neat soundtrack drawing on Bowie and The Divine Comedy complements the progress of characters who appear real and authentic.

Despite playing out like a superior soap, it's never sudsy and the two deaths that feature prominently provide real emotional punch.

Perhaps Richard Curtis should move to Paris - where this landed three Cesars (French Oscars) - and pick up some tips.

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