Valérie Zlotovski tackles in Other people’s children about the difficult relationship between child and friend (in this case) of the separated parent. The love story with the father as with his daughter, both rich in the salt of life, are constantly threatened by insecurity and rupture. A complex subject that the two actors Virginie Efira and Roshdy Zem carry brilliantly.
By Bernard Cassat
She is a teacher, she is forty years old, she approaches life with a totally positive approach. An intelligent woman, who lives with lightness a well-established daily life. A good woman in her life. But when it comes to romantic relationships, it’s more complicated. She lives alone, but one evening meets an attractive man in her guitar lesson. A relationship begins between them, a very beautiful story that takes us into a super well-crafted romantic comedy, with images of magnificent sensuality, light and funny lines, little nothings that indicate the depth of the relationship. .
Forty, the pivotal age for childbirth
This man, Ali, already has a daughter, Leila. Rebecca, since she is called after the director, wants to meet her. Leila, a magnificent four-and-a-half-year-old girl, obviously wins over her father’s friend. With her, Rebecca, who knew very little of her mother who died young, will discover what the mother-daughter relationship has that is wonderful. And therefore, implicitly, to establish in her this question of a child. Her old Jewish gynecologist tells her that her fertility is running out. Now is the time if she wants a child. This idea will drag in the film until the end, will feed the story without becoming the subject openly. The romantic comedy gives way to a darker development. The subject becomes the very maternal attachment that Rebecca feels towards Leila by dint of taking care of her, and that the separation from Ali will break, stop dead. A mother who separates from the father of her children continues to be a mother. Not her, since she’s not family.
The tears of separations
This question in our society with blended families, sometimes several times, Rebecca Zlotowski said not to have met her in the recent cinema. That’s why she grabbed it, especially since there are a lot of echoes in her real life. And yet it’s not a thesis film, nor is it a militant film. The character in her film (herself?) experiences all of this, the discovery of maternal love then its sudden end, in a more than positive way. The actress Virginie Efira, even more solar than his character, radiates so much that all negative questions, all pitfalls and conflicts, all jealousies and disappointments are erased. Her beauty, her presence, her aura erases possible questions. And the scenario adds to it too.
Holidays in the Camargue with its folklore, strong and very consensual emotion of the “family” making the sandwich, the little girl in the arms of her two parents, a scene which of course touches the grannies and the public. These are not clichés, rather ease of narration all the same a little heavy, a little too consensual to really touch. The heavy cavalry is also present in the soundtrack, Julien Clerc and Françoise Hardy, sure values who carry with them emotions accumulated outside the film. The same goes for the cinematic style. The fades to black, an (assumed) legacy of Truffaut and Sautet, remind us that this story, which makes this film so interesting, is also cinema.
So actors, and there, Rebecca Zlotowski made the right choice. Virginie Efira is dazzling, beautiful, intelligent in her game, discreet, elegant, to the point that one wonders how her partner can leave her! Roschdy Zemwhom Valérie knew well having already worked a lot with him (The Savages, a soap opera broadcast on Canal +), fulfills this role of modern man magnificently, a colossus with feet of clay whose hesitations harm those around him. And the little girl, who doesn’t have to play to soften the viewer.
Other people’s children therefore accumulate a lot of cards to come out on top. The strength of the scenario, of the story, is its major asset. Rebecca Zlotowski, screenwriter confirmed for a long time, is more original in the writing than in the realization. But she is one of the first in the class, and even manages, with the elegance of the greats, to hide the work under a beautiful consensual success, a very feminine success for a subject that is no less so.