The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [Le Premier Jour du Reste de Ta Vie] Movie Review

This exquisitely made French drama traces the life of a family through five key days over 12 years. It's a joy to watch, with vibrant characters, inventive direction and an emotional resonance that's both provocative and deeply moving.

In 1988, Robert and Marie-Jeanne (Gamblin and Breitman) are coming to terms with the fact that their eldest son Albert (Marmai) is moving into his own flat as middle son Raph (Grondin) turns 18. Over the years we also revisit them as rebellious daughter Fleur (Francois) turns 16 and follow relationships with various boys and girls as well as Robert's wine-loving father (Dumas). The family bond is strained and tested, including at least one ongoing feud, and yet there's an irresistible, indefinable connection, and a sense that they are discovering life together.

Writer-director Benzacon tells this story with plenty of snarky attitude and a lively, clever directorial style that keeps us glued to the screen. Edited together with wit and sensitivity, and scored with fantastic music, this expertly made film demonstrates real boldness in its use of both subtle surrealism and roaring comedy. And while he refuses to shy away from raw emotion, Benzacon never indulges in sentimentality.

There's never a false moment in the actors' performances, all of whom are perhaps a bit impossibly beautiful (family resemblance?). All five of the central actors find earthy honesty and multi-layered meaning as their characters grapple with love, purpose and mortality. And while there are moments that break our hearts, there are even more scenes that make us laugh out loud.

The film's anecdotal structure reveals events over the years that involve these family members both together and separately. Some sequences feel like deftly handled jokes, complete with punchlines, while others are small romances or tragedies. There's a running gag about Robert trying to quit smoking, a hilariously absurd conversation with a doctor about how he shares a name with a famous actor and a riotous air guitar competition. And when it emerges at the end with a moment of raw tenderness (plus a terrific final kick), we feel like we've lived a little more as a result of this film.

Cast & Crew

Director : Remi Bezancon

Producer : , Nicolas Altmeyer

Starring : , , , , , Roger Dumas, Stanley Weber, Sarah Cohen-Hadria, , Camille De Pazzis, Aymeric Cormerais, Jean-Jacques Vanier


Comments

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [Le Premier Jour du Reste de Ta Vie] Rating

" Essential "

Rating: 15, 2008

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