Our Children/A Perdre la Raison

Film Title: Our Children

Director: Joachim Lafosse

Starring: Niels Arestrup Tahir Rahim

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 114 min

Fri, May 10, 2013, 01:00

   

We know Joachim Lafosse’s harrowing, award- winning new drama is headed toward an emotional abyss right from the start, when an overture introduces the phrase “We’ll bury the children in Morocco”.

This Franco-Belgian drama is based on a horrifying case wherein a mother killed her five young children. But long before the tragedy at its dark heart there’s a creeping sensation of uneasiness around the pretty multicultural couple, Mourir ( A Prophet ’s Tahir Rahim) and Murielle ( Rosetta ’s Émilie Dequenne).

For one thing, we’re never entirely sure about the exact nature of the relationship between the Moroccan-born Mourir and his possessive, adopted father figure André (one of Niels Arestrup’s most sinister screen patriarchs). We soon gather that André is married into Mourir’s family, a union of convenience that has allowed the younger man to remain in France.

But there’s something else: something elusive, uncertain and vaguely unsuitable about the entire domestic arrangement. “People talk back in the village about you and the old man”, shouts Mourir’s brother during a routine sibling row: “They talk all the time.”

Who could blame them? When the newlyweds go on honeymoon , there’s never a doubt that André will come too; when they talk about moving out of the home they all share and into a bigger one to accommodate their growing army of children, André, ever the sugar daddy, moves the gang to a larger dwelling.

Murielle’s increasing distress and postpartum depression does not go unnoticed exactly: Mourir mentions her “illness” several times; André sends her to a psychotherapist and tells her to get out of the mui-mui that becomes her only costume. But they don’t notice nearly enough, and they don’t link the sense of being beholden and dependent to what they do see.

Dequenne is simply one of best actors on the planet. Her portrayal of baby blues and postnatal psychosis is as subtle as it is devastating. She rightly took home last year’s Un Certain Regard award for Best Actress. It’s her second Cannes win following on from the Palme d’Or-winning Rosetta and richly deserved.