Mia Hansen-LÃ¸ve may not be a filmmaker you’ve heard much about, but with TIFF’s upcoming retrospective on her work to date, film fans clamouring for a new favourite filmmaker will be able to catch up on this young French director’s trio of astonishingly sophisticated films about the scars that various relationships can leave on our hearts.
Originally an actress, Hansen-LÃ¸ve first appeared on the scene in her now-husband Olivier Assayas‘ films Late August, Early September and Sentimental Destinies. Not content to simply mouth the words that someone else wrote for her, she stepped behind the camera and tapped into her own life experiences to create quiet, true-to-life portraits about human interactions, both nourishing to the soul and occasionally devastating to the spirit.
All Is Forgiven (2007)
The director’s first feature is an impressive debut with a bit of a twist structure-wise. The first half centres around a married couple Victor and Annette (Paul Blain and Marie-Christine Friedrich) whose relationship is falling apart thanks to Victor’s ever-worsening drug addiction. Despite the debilitating habit, Victor is still able have a close relationship with his young daughter. When the marriage inevitably falls apart, the film leaps forward by a decade to focus on the now-teenage daughter, Pamela (Constance Rousseau) who is attempting the difficult task of trying to reconnect with her estranged father. The film is sensitively wrought and naturalistic in its design, making it easy to relate to the plight of each family member. It also makes some interesting observations about the passage of time and the ability of the human memory to filter out all but the extremely good and the extremely bad moments in life.
All is Forgiven screens on Thursday, August 23, 2012.
The Father of My Children (2009)
With her second feature, Hansen-LÃ¸ve focuses once more on a troubled Dad and his affect on those around him. Based on real-life French film producer Humbert Balsan, the story focuses on Gregoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), a producer facing some insurmountable personal demons. His company has sunk into a deep debt and Gregoire, now disillusioned by his once-thriving career, sinks into a deep depression that leads to tragedy. The film’s second half sees Gregoire’s young family grappling with this tragedy and attempting move on with their lives. The film is haunting and deeply intelligent in the way it explores the unspoken feelings and miscommunications that plague families trying to overcome a deeply saddening event.
The Father of My Children screens on Friday, August 24, 2012.
Goodbye First Love (2011)
Hansen-LÃ¸ve’s third feature seems her most personal to date. Supposedly semi-autobiographical, Goodbye First Love tells the story of a teen romance that will continue to affect its young lovers for years into the adulthood. 15-year-old Camille (Lola CrÃ©ton in a career-making performance) begins a passionate relationship with 19-year-old Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) that has them obsessed with one another even as Sullivan longs for more in his life. When Sullivan takes off to see the world, leaving Camille behind, the two try to keep in touch and keep the flame of love alive, but the distance proves too great and the communication trickles off. The hyper-romantic Camille goes through a dangerous depression yet manages to pull herself out and resumes her life. Years later, the two run into one another again and their unresolved relationship bubbles to the surface once more, threatening to derail their lives. What’s most interesting about the film is the way that it looks at the usually idealized first love with a critical eye ““ sure it can be all kinds of euphoric, but it can also be a yoke around your neck that can colour all future relationships. It’s revelations like this that make Goodbye First Love a truly special and extraordinary film.
Goodbye First Love screens on Saturday, August 25, 2012.
All three films screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox with an in-person introduction by Mia Hansen-LÃ¸ve for each. Check the TIFF website for more information.
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