Père et fils (Father and Sons) Michel Boujenah
Published Mar 01, 2004Seventy-year-old Léo has three sons, but several years after a severe falling out between two of them they still can't be in the same room together without exploding, and Léo isn't getting any younger. His plans to repair past damages have never succeeded, but when a harmless fainting spell lands him in the hospital, Léo is inspired to initiate the ultimate plan: a make-it-or-break-it scheme to reunite his family.
Pretending that his hospital visit has to do with much more serious matters, Léo cons his sons into taking a trip to Quebec with him, with the belief that just a few days alone with them will fix their broken relationship. While Père et fils is really about a father trying to reconnect his stubborn sons, on the road to recovery a little embarrassing light is shed on Léo's own shortcomings as a father. Besides accusations of being an absentee father, Léo's crimes include giving either socks or nothing for birthdays, delivering hookers as graduation presents, and sending one of his young sons to deliver a "Dear Jane" letter to a hairdresser with whom he was having an affair.
A solid soundtrack backs up this story, in which Philippe Noiret, as the seriously unattractive (and apparently indestructible) Léo, and Pascal Elbé, Charles Berling and Bruno Putzulu as the sons, make a good chorus together none of them rising above the rest. While Elbé's pot-smoking sponge is preferable to Putzulu's feeble nympho, or Berling's unsentimental workaholic, in time all characters become more likeable all but Léo that is.
While Léos concern for his family is touching, little attention is paid to his failings as a father; failings that are no doubt due to his propensity to be manipulative, easily angered and self-centred. It's no wonder his kids ended up so screwed up. The one redeeming character in the plot is the over-virtuous uncle (Jacques Boudet), who threatens, even long distance, to reveal Léo's secret to his clueless sons. (Alliance Atlantis)