It is a very difficult thing to be able to make a film that deals with filmmaking without it succumbing to being a completely insular, self-referential parody of something that is really quite benign and dull to those outside of the industry. There are, of course, exceptions but these are few and far between and inevitably 'prove the rule', as it were. What do 8 1/2, La nuit américaine, Peeping Tom, Bad Education, The Player and Singin' in the Rain have in common? Sure, they're all films that are set on a film set but more than that they are probably some of the finest examples of filmmaking from some of the world's greatest filmmakers. These are undoubtedly unusual circumstances. Which is only one reason that makes Le père de mes enfants such a brilliant work of film.
The film is the third by French director and actress Mia Hansen-Løve, and winner of the Jury Special Prize (Un Certain Regard) at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Her previous (the short Après mûre réflexion , Tout est pardonné ) were small productions that proved her conservatoire training. She released her first feature film at the age of twenty-six, and this latest film when we was 28. Considering that the film industry is, without question, one of the most male-dominated across the entire arts, this is no simple feat. Also no simple feat is the fact that this film is breathtakingly stunning. Following the misfortunes of a film producer in modern-day Paris, as he attempts to juggle his work and personal life, the film is unsettling. It reminds us of how life can be both fragile and, at times, seemingly futile but Hansen-Løve has a more assured hand than that. Hers is a world akin to the great Eric Rohmer, and is ultimately about what can make life, well, just wonderful.