1 June 2020 | ulicknormanowen
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
A curate's egg of a movie .Gilles Legrand 's previous efforts were more convincing : it was a return to the popular cinema ,should he broach melodrama ("La jeune fille et les loups" ) , psychological drama ( "l'odeur de la mandarine ":a soldier returns home an amputee in WW1),or rural film noir ("tu seras mon fils ", arguably his unsung masterpiece).
That said ,Agnès Jaoui 's enthusiasm is infectious, and she effortlessly wins over the audience.Her commitment to her work , to help immigrants learn French and to fit into the society , is genuine .Her relationship with Elke ,the German girl with a whole array of qualifications ,is well depicted .Although a volunteer , in spite of her altruism , Isabelle cannot help but getting jealous of this alien who ,somehow, steals her work :Elke's modern methods get on her nerves ,and her "rival" can become really nasty (her insults , hinting at the nazis,are hateful).Fortunately, humor is also present ,notably in the scenes at the driving school.
But it's not all good news : the depiction of Isabelle's family life get in the way: her husband and her children feel deserted as this heroine devotes most of her time to her protégés ,which makes sense : but the meetings with the marriage guidance consellor are clichés ;the family meal where everybody wants to champion a cause is ponderous ;the husband (himself an immigrant from Bosnia ) is insignificant,so are the children .The mother (Michele Moretti)
who is also at odds with her generous daughter makes her self-criticism in her intervention during her own mother's funeral but it falls flat and things take off only when the protégés and Elke break into Edith Piaf 's "hymne à l'amour "
There's a big mistake in the cast!Michelle Moretti is nearing 80 and her mom ("Mamita" ) seems to be in her late eighties ,not more!