Robert Guédiguian is one of the most vital directors currently working in France , his masterworks " La Ville Est Tranquille" " Les Neiges Du kilimandjaro" or the neglected "Une Histoire De Fous " are endearing tales that go straight to the heart :generous, brash, full of compassion , far from the crazes and the trends and a million light years from the "feel-good" contemporary French scene ,Guédiguian 's commitment to his work is extraordinary.
I would perhaps not put,however , " La Villa" ,among his best works ;there is too much stuff on it that should have been edited : several characters would need a whole movie ,and maybe a treatment a la "La Ville Est Tranquille " woud have done them justice in a more efficient way .Besides ,there are cliches , a thing he avoided in former works: the post -May 68 unionist (played by highly talented Darroussin ) we have seen him a hundred times or more;ditto for the young fiancée -who-could-be -his daughter - who is decorative but does not really bring something substantial to the plot ;his anti-militarist side gets on the nerves :I do hope Guédiguian sides with the black soldier ,who,like his mates ,is not responsible for what the authorities do with the immigrants ,but "do protect the bourgeois " of whom Joseph is part ,willy-nilly.By the same token , the young fisherman's love with an aging actress (the wonderful Ariane Ascaride ), is trite and predictable.Last but not least ,Guédiguian ,who has always used songs from the FRENCH culture (see "Kilimandjaro" and " Histoire De Fous" ) succumbs to one of his less talented colleague's vices : a song in English :Dylan's "I want you";it's about as appropriate here as "Comme D'Habitude " ("my way") would have been on "the killing of the sacred deer".
That said , you should watch this movie :its several moving moments will make it worth your while:
-the young doctor ,whose parents "struggled all their life to get by" ,and who now wants to take care of them ; their desire to taste "the other world, should it exist ",hand in hand (in every sense of the term).
-the patriarch,lighting a (probably forbidden ) cigarette with a terse "never mind" .
-the second scene,with the young black soldier ,when he's offered a coffee and explains what fate lies in store for illegal orphaned immigrants'children .
-the three children in the bushes, the girl feeding her kid brothers ;the "grave" ;the people from the villa trying to communicate with them .
And in the end,despite the several reservations expressed above, "La Villa" is a hymn to life : their father,after his stroke ,will live a vegetative life to his death ;his three children have no child to carry on;thus ,the appearance of the three young aliens is all the more important ; like Marie-Claire and her husband in "Les Neiges Du Kilimandjaro ", imitating Victor Hugo's " Les pauvres Gens " , both brothers and their sister take the waifs in ,even though they do not know if it can be sustained ;instead of stupidly blaming the army, Joseph takes a genuine rebel stand :the future may seem bleak ,as far as their protégés ' fate is concerned , but they have now a reason to live .
By several respects ,Robert Guédiguian works like John Cassavetes used to do:like him ,he has his own actors (including his partner in life Ascaride) he uses ,but his approach is less oblique than that of the American director.