Les enfants des autres / Venice Film Festival / Drama Festival Venice Film Festival / Persinsala.it

Fifth feature film by Rebecca Zlotowski, the first to arrive in competition in Venice, Les enfants des autres it is a drama with a clear feminist imprint.

Born in 1980, Rebecca Zlotowski is a French director with partly Polish and partly Moroccan origins and a discreet curriculum behind him: he directed five short films and, among others, not just actors like Louis Garrell, Natalie Portman or Lily-Rose Depp. His latest work, Others’ childrenis an after all secondary title of the official competition of the current Venice Film Festival 2022, which nevertheless reflects on important issues taken directly from public debates and social that have characterized the last few years.

Others’ children faces a thorny situation that more and more women – but also men – find themselves living in the course of their sentimental lives: since divorce is no longer a taboo and has become a “habit” from right, after thirty it is common to find a new partner who has children from previous histories. It is Rebecca Zlotowski who summarizes the reflection that led her to conceive this new film, and the plot of the film itself, in the director’s notes accompanying the Venice program: “a forty-year-old childless falls in love with a father single. As she tries to find space in the man’s family, she begins to feel the desire to have a family of her own. But she, as a character traditionally in the background, if not a simple extra, she is forced to disappear with the end of the love story. Why such a woman, who lives an apparently common experience – and which I myself have experienced – has never been the protagonist of a film? With Les enfants des autres I made the film that I would have liked to see at the cinema, thinking that others might have the same desire too ».

Unlike other films featured in the Official Competition of this seventy-ninth edition of the Venice Film Festival, Others’ children does not mark a particular new milestone in global cinematography – it has nothing to do with the technically almost impossible sequence shots of Athena by Gavras Jr. or with the representation of transsexuality in Italian cinema disturbed by Crialese with his new one The immensity. Nonetheless, precisely because it is explicitly linked to a certain critical debate still underway on the subject of female gaze and of the under-representation, in contemporary cinema, of the female perspective on certain crucial issues of the couple relationship, Others’ children however, it is an important film document, which also frames a precise moment of current French culture.

After all, that the personal is political and vice versa is a verdict that has been repeated since 1968 and Rebecca Zlotowski made no secret of having drawn, for this film, from the relationship she had with director Jacques Audiard and his extended family; and perhaps this very palpable component autofiction flowing under the film represents its partial limit. The structural problem of Others’ children it is not in the transport or in the empathy with which the story of love / disaffection between the two protagonists is told, but in the poor narrative balance: in particular, the joyful sequences that tell the idyll of the couple weigh too much on the final editing of the film. the bond that is created, beyond some friction, between the protagonist and the daughter of his new partner. Symmetrically, it is clear that the moment of the break, relegated to the last twenty minutes of the film, is less thorough and almost sudden, apodictic, certainly anti-climatic: it has reached its second turning point, Others’ children it loses its existential fluidity and suddenly seems to care only to prove the thesis behind the film.

That Others’ children side with the protagonist and not with the protagonist is predictable and basically natural, after all, seemingly rhetorical jokes that the protagonist exchanges with the man’s ex-wife are not out of place – “we women will have to stop apologizing to each other, at the place of men “. The fact is that it is such a linear and basically so predictable construction that it makes one lose the taste for narration, for storytelling. Another element of autofiction that perhaps needed to be explored more in order to give the right balance to the narrative dynamics of the feature film are the numerous references to Jewish culture and spirituality which also underpin the relationships and discourses between the protagonist and her family of origin.
This does not mean that Zlotowski’s film lacks its basic objective or remains out of focus with respect to the themes it wants to deepen: beyond a certain schematicity and a certain partisan spirit, the adoption of an entirely female perspective on events narrated certainly offers a fresh look at very delicate moral dilemmas. The protagonist Virginie Efira, a long-time Franco-Belgian actress now consecrated after the collaboration with Paul Verhoeven who elected her as his belated muse, is absolutely convincing and dedicated to the part of her; the Franco-Moroccan Roschdy Zem in the role of Ali is no exception. It should also be noted the presence of Chiara Mastroianni in the part of his ex-wife, destined to play a crucial role in the abrupt conclusion of the affair.

Title: Les enfants des autres
Movie director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Film script: Rebecca Zlotowski
Main actors: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, Yamée Couture
Scenography: Katia Wyszkop
Photography: George Lechaptois
Assembly: Géraldine Mangenot
Costumes: Bénédicte Mouret
Production: Les Films Velvet, France 3 Cinéma
Distribution: Europictures
Duration: 104 ‘
Genre: dramatic
Exit: September 22, 2022

Les enfants des autres / Venice Film Festival / Drama Festival Venice Film Festival / Persinsala.it