Grand Sons

"Very Good"

Grand Sons Review


Grand Sons is the type of film that operates on an extremely small scale to reveal very big ideas about familial love and loyalty. This finely detailed and exquisitely subtle depiction of a difficult yet loving relationship between an aging grandmother and her wounded grandson is humble to a fault yet deeply affecting. Writer/director Ilan Duran Cohen has the master's touch.

Grandmother Regine (Reine Ferrato) is aging not so gracefully in her cluttered Paris apartment. Every couple of weeks, her 24-year-old grandson Guillaume comes in from the seaside where he lives to pay her a visit, but given his behavior, you may wonder why he bothers. Guillaume is sullen, argumentative, insulting, and sometimes extremely distant. And yet he keeps coming. And Grandma puts up with it, shrugging off his outbursts and criticisms and simply offering him more to eat.

It becomes clear when Regine prepares Guillaume a birthday dinner that his mother died two years ago after a difficult life during much of which she surrendered custody of her son to her mother. Guillaume keeps coming back to Grandma's because he has nowhere else to go. She is -- and has always been -- his only family. As for Mom, her ashes are kept in a suitcase on Grandma's balcony. Regine is a world-weary woman and not one prone to sentimentality. As Guillaume quietly weeps over the dinner table, she simply says, "Stop that, don't do that."

The rhythms of their lives are interrupted when Regine hires a young male housekeeper called Maxime (Jean-Philippe Sêt) to stop by a few days a week to help her with cleaning tasks she can no longer manage. Guillaume is suspicious of Maxime and then, more interestingly, jealous of him and he and Regine begin to bond, Maxime points out Guillaume's mean behavior to Regine, but she's utterly forgiving, saying it's to be expected given all he's been through in his life.

Guillaume and Maxime slowly build a friendship (they may or may not both be gay; the film is circumspect on that topic), and Guillaume starts to relax, even as he begins planning to honor his mother's final wish and scatter her ashes in Scotland to honor her final wish.

And that's pretty much that. Grand Sons is a film of small pleasures, many of which are found in the performances of Ferrato and Quatravaux, who are utterly natural and seem to improvise off each other effortlessly. You really feel like you're spying on their most private moments in that claustrophobic apartment. They are two remarkable performances. Watching Guillaume's quiet weepy moments, you want to reach out and give him a hug as a few tears drip down his face. And then you want to hug Grandma, too, and tell her that her generosity toward Guillaume hasn't gone unnoticed. It's an utterly involving chamber piece with enough of an upbeat ending to let you hope that these two difficult people, each very much stuck in their ways, still have enough common ground on which to build a better relationship.

Aka Les Petits Fils.

And grand dame.



Grand Sons

Facts and Figures

Run time: 84 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 17th November 2004

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ilan Duran Cohen

Producer: Ilan Duran Cohen

Starring: Reine Ferrato as Mamie Régine, Guillaume Quatravaux as Guillaume, Jean-Philippe Sêt as Maxime, Brice Cauvin as Serge, Brice Cauvin as Ben, Régis Gambier as Le Plombier, Ilan Duran Cohen as Le père de Ben

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