The Bélier Family
Not smoking, not drinking, but flying
Palace Brighton Bay - Monday 28 December 2015, 1:00pm
Running time: 105m
Classification: M (Coarse language)
Release date: 26/12/15
Cost: $10 (Entertainment Book)
Rating: 8/10 (ME 4/5, DP 4/5)
Life in rural France is extremely busy for young Paula (Louane Emera) as she works on the farm and studies at high-school before acting as business manager and interpreter for her family (who are all deaf) by night. She works on the family cheese stall at the weekend market and then is asked to assist with her father's candidacy for the position of mayor. If that wasn't busy enough, she joins the school choir and is soon singled out by Mr Thomasson (Eric Elmosino) her teacher, as a singer with a 'gold nugget' in her throat, making her worthy of an audition for a prestigious and exclusive singing school in Paris. It is Paula's struggle between this incredible opportunity to leave the restrictions of her farming life and her fears of abandoning her family, who are seemingly so reliant on her as communicator and translator, around which the film becomes centred.
The cast is brilliant, with a highlight being Louane Emera and the beautiful energy that she brings to Paula and her internal struggle, while avoiding the usual pitfalls of the portrayal of teen angst. As we get to know Paula's family; mum Gigi (Karin Viard), dad Rodolphe (Francois Damiens) and brother Quentin (Luca Gelberg), many hilarious moments ensue; meals in the chaotic farmhouse with animated arguments, the family teamwork at the cheese stall, Rodolphe's interview about his candidacy and a wonderful scene in a doctor's surgery, where Paula often introduces some significant poetic licence in the way she translates what her family says and what is said back to them. The pace of the film is great and despite their frequent arguments, the warmth and love within this family is abundantly clear. Although they are deaf, the Béliers are never presented as disadvantaged in any way. They have a successful business, the parents are sexually playful (you'll see) and deafness is never seen as an impediment to Rodolphe's candidacy for Mayor. There is no shortage of surprises in this film and many priceless moments with a clever use of slapstick but rarely feels out of place amidst the tender relationships which form the heart of the film.
This is a delightful movie that takes you on a roller coaster ride from hilarity to tears in an outstanding finale (no spoilers here). It is funny and heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Go along to meet the wonderful Bélier family, but remember to take some tissues. Recommended. (DP)