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The Foibles of Family: A French Charmer With Laughs And Heart,
This review is from: The Day I Saw Your Heart (DVD)
Jennifer Devoldere's dramedy "The Day I Saw Your Heart" is an offbeat combination of unbelievably quirky characters, farcical situations mixed with real life concerns, and overt sentimentality. There's not much about its plot that rings particularly true, but the underlying alienation that can exist within families grounds the movie in a way that make it virtually impossible not to respond to. It's very much like a grown-up sitcom that packs a surprisingly emotional punch. Perhaps I'm not describing the picture well. I enjoyed it very much. But my head groaned at some of the film's contrivances while my heart embraced its overall mood and message. It probably helped matters that the film boasts a strong and likable cast. Led by the lovely Melanie Laurent (who I still think was robbed of an Oscar nod for Inglorious Basterds), this French trifle has heart and charm to spare.
The movie introduces us to a typical family of comic dysfunction, the Dhreys. It soon becomes apparent, however, that a special awkwardness and irritation exist between father (Michel Blanc) and daughter (Laurent). Blanc may easily have the film's showiest role and he inhabits it to perfection. Fussy and inappropriate, he is also a lovable curmudgeon. The tension between the two is palpable and real, and this is where the movie tackles some of its more serious issues. Blanc has a new wife with the baby on the way which pushes Laurent into even greater alienation. Laurent, meanwhile, is beginning a new relationship that she seems destined to ruin like all of her other short term commitments. Moments in "The Day I Saw Your Heart" are genuinely moving, some are quite funny, but other push too far. Laurent's workplace hobby, for example, (which is necessary for the film's central metaphor and meaning) never resembles reality. But in the end, while not perfect, the film strikes a pleasing balance.
Laurent's character might have been thoroughly unappealing in other hands (she is quite surly, challenging, and selfish), but the audience sticks with her due to Laurent's underlying vulnerability. The interplay between her and Blanc is the heart of the film. While I wanted to love "The Day I Saw Your Heart," though, I merely liked it. But I'd easily recommend it to fans of the genre and/or the actors involved. Despite some of the less convincing set-up, it still packs an emotionally satisfying conclusion. The Bonus Short for this presentation is a four minute Canadian animated feature entitled "Don't Tell Santa You're Jewish." It's pleasant enough, if rather a throw-away. I look forward to the Film Movement shorts because there have been some really spectacular and impactful selections from around the globe. This tiny film just doesn't stand up to some of their stronger entries and doesn't add much value to the DVD presentation. Some months, this short can make the DVD a must-buy! KGHarris, 11/12.