Father of My Children (12A)
This remarkable film by Mia Hansen-Løve is so deceptively quiet you could miss the dreadful anguish at its heart.
It begins as a low-key portrait of an independent film producer, Gregoire (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), whose life revolves around his office in Paris, his mobile phone, and the wife and family he doesn't quite see enough of.
The camera, as stealthy as an eavesdropper, engagingly monitors his daily routines and shows us a man who is madly busy yet contented. The only problem, glimpsed almost in passing, is that he seems to be going bankrupt, but he claims a wealthy family he can apply to in case of a crisis. A shocking event halfway through the story completely sabotages our assumptions, and the writer-director Hansen-Løve brings a sudden cold clarity to bear in the manner of an Alice Munro short story – I can think of no higher praise – obliging us to rethink the entire drift of the film. The second half shifts the perspective to Gregoire's wife Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) and his eldest daughter Clemence (Alice de Lencquesaing) as they try to understand his motivation and at the same time uphold the integrity of his work. It becomes moving as much for what it doesn't say as what it does; buried beneath its magnificently composed surface is a poignant sense of self-sacrifice to a business where money will always trump art.