Saturday, June 3, 2006

Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Luck Mervil, Edouard Baer, Stephane Freiss, Alexis Chatrian

TV 5

Histoire de Jose

It is rare that I get to watch a decent French film now over at TV 5. They are usually shown on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30 pm local time (Manila). A period when I would either be having dinner or caught up in other TV shows. But I was lucky enough to see this one from the beginning while channel surfing. Of course it had English subtitles which always helps although I *do* still speak and understand Francais. But it can get a bit tricky when they speak too fast.
Anyways, this film is based on a novel by Ruth Rendell entitled "The Tree of Hands". It is the story of Betty Fisher, a writer who returns to Paris after having lived in the United States. She has a young son, Joseph. She just bought a new house in the Parisian suburbs so she invited her mother Margot to stay with them for a few months. Her mother is a bit strange and is prone to episodes of eccentric behavior. After Joseph accidentally falls to his death, Betty is very distraught and falls into a sea of depression. Her mother, Margot decides on a wimp to kidnap another child, Jose to replace the child Betty lost tragically.
Thus begins the struggle of 3 different women all coping with their roles as mothers. You have Margot who is trying to make amends for Betty's hard childhood. Betty who just lost her only son, Joseph. A child she fought to have despite her husband, Edouard's reluctance to have kids. And lastly, Carole who is the mother of Jose. She is a waitress in a bar, doesn't know who Jose's real father is and resents the burden of having a son.
The director presents the film through snippets of the different characters. Projecting the screen with "Histoire de Betty", "Histoire de Alex" which loosely translates to "Betty's story", "Alex's story".
There are a lot of secondary characters who all somehow fit in some way or another to the main plot. The police detectives looking in the disappearance of little Jose, the doctor at the hospital, Alex who is allegedly Jose's real father, Francois who is Carole's current boyfriend and even a mob type Armenian guy.
But in essence it is the story of a mother coming to terms with the death of her son. Yet she is also learning to love/accept his replacement as her own child. Never mind if Jose was kidnapped in broad daylight. It all boils down to being a story about a mother's love for a child, any child.
The ending is a melange of twists, mistaken identities, brutal crime and also a triumphant escape. So after all the confusion, it just ends. You simply shrug your shoulders and go "Hmm ok so that was interesting in some surreal way."

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