Life goes on and on

THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE/LE PREMIER JOUR DU RESTE DE TA VIE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

IS THERE a name for that genre of film that vis­its sev­eral dis­crete in­ci­dents evenly scat­tered through a lengthy pe­riod in the life of a char­ac­ter or a fam­ily? Well, there should be. It’s an ir­re­sistible form that’s ex­ploited to agree­able ef­fect in this nice-looking French soap opera.

Fo­cus­ing on an oddly class­less (by Bri­tish or Ir­ish stan­dards) Parisian fam­ily, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life takes in sex com­edy, per­sonal melo­drama and com­ing-of-age story without too many jar­ring shifts in tone.

The wryly named Robert Du­val (Jac­ques Gam­blin) is a taxi driver liv­ing, thanks to his snooty fa­ther, in a posh house sur­rounded by much green­ery. The rest of the fam­ily com­prises Mrs Du­val (Zabou Bre­it­man), an angsty sur­vivor of the counter-cul­ture, and three chil­dren: slacker Raphael (Marc-An­dre Grondin), grunge fan Fleur (Deborah Fran­cois) and re­served med­i­cal stu­dent Al­bert (Pio Mar­mai).

As the story fo­cuses on five im­por­tant days in the char­ac­ters’ lives – head­ing off to col­lege, a sig­nif­i­cant med­i­cal ap­point­ment and so on – this easy-go­ing pic­ture does a de­cent job of chart­ing a com­plex net of re­la­tion­ships over sev­eral decades. Some­times the kids ap­pear to be ma­tur­ing. Some­times they seem to be get­ting more and more stub­born. The par­ents, de­spite trou­bles, gain a kind of un­der­stand­ing, and the story (un­like life) drifts to­wards a ty­ing up of loose ends.

Ow­ing some­thing to the FrenchCana­dian sleeper C.R.A.Z.Y, Remi Bezan­con’s pic­ture man­ages the tricky busi­ness of sum­mon­ing up var­i­ous eras while main­tain­ing a clean nar­ra­tive thread. The act­ing is strong and the cin­e­matog­ra­phy con­sis­tently pretty.

On the down­side, the film is only about 50 per cent as smart and 25 per cent as cool as it thinks it­self to be. Lou Reed’s A Per­fect Day is a mag­nif­i­cent song, but any film­maker who still turns to it when seek­ing to spread poignancy about the place needs to take a visit to the record shop. Do they still have such things?

I’m too cool for this film

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