‘A Kid'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Ac­tress Vanessa Red­grave makes her di­rect­ing de­but in Lon­don yes­ter­day with a film about refugees, fea­tur­ing fel­low stage stars Ralph Fi­ennes and Emma Thompson. "Sea Sor­row" re­counts life for refugees flee­ing Euro­pean war zones through­out the last cen­tury and aims to have an im­pact on view­ers. "We all get tired, we've got to be re­minded of the deeper things that make it worth­while to live and to help oth­ers, and that's re­ally why we made this film," Red­grave, 79, told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion. The Os­car-win­ning ac­tress filmed "Sea Sor­row" in coun­tries in­clud­ing France, Greece, Italy and Le­banon, be­gin­ning the project af­ter an image of a Syr­ian boy washed up on a Turkish beach went vi­ral.

"First and fore­most it was my hor­ror at the fact so many refugees were dy­ing who should have been given safe pas­sage, and could have been given safe pas­sage," she said. "I thought of it be­fore but when the lit­tle boy Alan Kurdi was found washed up, that was the mo­ment that said 'get go­ing, get started'." Nearly 12,000 peo­ple have died or gone miss­ing cross­ing the Mediter­ranean Sea since the start of 2014, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the UN refugee agency. Af­ter a peak of more than one mil­lion sea ar­rivals in Europe in 2015, so far this year more than 350,000 peo­ple have made the cross­ing.

Red­grave also drew on 20th-cen­tury ex­pe­ri­ences for her film, fea­tur­ing Lord Al­fred Dubs who ear­lier this year cam­paigned to have more child refugees brought to Bri­tain. The La­bor politi­cian was a child refugee him­self, brought to the UK un­der the "Kin­der­trans­port" pro­gram which helped chil­dren flee Nazi per­se­cu­tion. "Sea Sor­row", which will be screened at Lon­don's Ham­mer­smith Town Hall, was pro­duced by Red­grave and her son Carlo Nero, who said it had par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance at Christ­mas. "We have to re­mem­ber that the Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion in the reli­gious sense is about per­se­cu­tion and a fam­ily of refugees in the Mid­dle East-that is the story and it is our story," he said. — AFP

Vanessa Red­grave

Call­ing "A Kid" a nice fam­ily drama may sound faintly damn­ing, but the fact is the film is just that, a solidly crafted story about a man dis­cov­er­ing that his late fa­ther, Jean, had an­other fam­ily, told with the right dose of emo­tion, with­out sex, and with a fin­ish de­signed to leave a warm and quasi-tear­ful glow. In lesser hands, "A Kid" would have tipped into bland sen­ti­men­tal­ity, but Philippe Lioret ("Wel­come") is a mas­ter at weav­ing nar­ra­tives that bal­ance a suf­fi­cient de­gree of psy­cho­log­i­cal depth with good old-fash­ioned sto­ry­telling know-how. Though the mid­sec­tion is weak, the movie com­pen­sates with a well-played end­ing that makes it a nat­u­ral for main­stream Fran­co­phone art houses, not to men­tion Euro sat­cast ro­ta­tion and in-flight en­ter­tain­ment.

At 33, Mathieu (Pierre De­ladon­champs, "Stranger by the Lake") ap­pears vaguely un­sat­is­fied with his life as a dog-food sales ex­ec­u­tive in Paris. His re­la­tion­ship with ex-wife Carine (Ro­mane Por­tail) is good, he's an in­volved dad to son Valentin (Ti­mothy Vom Dorp), yet he seems to be tread­ing wa­ter. Then he gets word that the fa­ther he never knew has died in Canada, leav­ing two other adult sons, and he de­cides to go to Mon­treal to meet the fam­ily he was un­aware ex­isted. Mathieu's sole con­tact is the per­son who broke the news by phone, his fa­ther's friend Pierre (Gabriel Ar­cand). At the air­port Pierre ap­pears demon­stra­bly an­noyed that Mathieu made the jour­ney, urg­ing him to keep his ex­is­tence a se­cret from half-broth­ers Ben­jamin (Pa­trick Hivon) and Sa­muel (Pierre-Yves Car­di­nal). It's all very per­plex­ing to Mathieu, whose mother died eight years ear­lier stick­ing to her story that she'd had a one-night stand and never re­veal­ing even his fa­ther's name.

Mak­ing mat­ters more com­pli­cated, Jean drowned in a lake and his body hasn't been found. Ben­jamin and Sa­muel head north to the site in the hopes of find­ing their fa­ther's re­mains; Pierre re­luc­tantly agrees to bring Mathieu along pro­vided he doesn't tell the broth­ers that he's the half-sib­ling they don't know about. Here's where the script sags a bit, as ten­sions between Ben­jamin and Sa­muel feel forced (money and re­li­gion come into play), and their in­ter­ac­tions could have been bet­ter played. More mean­ing­ful and con­sid­er­ably more sat­is­fy­ing are scenes with Mathieu at Pierre's home, where Pierre's wife Angie (Marie-Therese Fortin) and their daugh­ter Bet­tina (Cather­ine de Lean) of­fer in­sight into Jean and his fam­ily while ex­tend­ing warmth and un­der­stand­ing to the slightly be­wil­dered French­man.

Lioret sets up Pierre's fam­ily dy­nam­ics as an an­ti­dote of sorts to Jean's more frac­tured house­hold, but in keep­ing with the helmer's qui­etly unas­sum­ing style, he re­veals that lov­ing fam­i­lies come in all forms, and that sur­faces rarely of­fer views into what lies be­neath. "A Kid," very loosely adapted from a novel by Jean-Paul Dubois, plays with these no­tions in a straight­for­ward yet lay­ered man­ner, con­trast­ing forms of fa­ther­hood with­out pass­ing judg­ment. The film also jux­ta­poses Mathieu's French lais­sez-faire out­look with the Cana­di­ans' more un­yield­ing mind­set, in which se­crets are al­lowed to stew and bub­ble over in some­times vi­o­lent ways. That said, there are barely any true fire­works here, just the kind of grad­ual un­der­stand­ing that comes with hard­won ma­tu­rity.

De­ladon­champs plays a seem­ingly more con­ven­tional char­ac­ter than in re­cent films, but Mathieu is never less than an in­ter­est­ing fig­ure, de­cent and kind with­out be­ing wishy-washy. That's a good sum­ma­tion for the whole film: hand­somely made, gen­tly told, and re­veal­ing depths that weren't so ap­par­ent from the be­gin­ning. — Reuters

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