Other People's Children (2022)

Other People's Children (2022)

A tender and surprisingly sunny — though never sugarcoating — adult drama about childlessness

The Very Best

8.3

Movie

France
English, French
Comedy, Drama
2022
FEMALE DIRECTOR, REBECCA ZLOTOWSKI
Anne Berest, Antonia Buresi, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves
104 min

TLDR

Of all its many allures, this also features legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman in a cameo as a gynecologist — yes, really.

What it's about

A teacher in her forties falls in love with a man at her guitar class — and becomes just as attached to his four-year-old daughter.

The take

Other People’s Children wrestles with some very tricky life experiences: bonding with a partner’s child in the agonizing knowledge that that attachment is entirely contingent on the fate of your romantic relationship; being a woman of a certain age and wanting a child but becoming keenly aware of the ticking of your body clock. For all the sharp points of pain the movie zones in on, though, there is remarkable cheerfulness in it, too. Writer-director Rebecca Zlotowski captures a wide spectrum of mood here, fusing lighthearted laughs and swooning romance with bitter disappointments and grief in a way that feels organic to life itself. The buoyant moments don’t undermine the sincere, intelligent consideration given to Rachel’s (Virginie Efira) perspective as a woman navigating a situation for which there are no real rules, and vice versa — because the film considers her as a whole from the outset. Neither reducing Rachel to her childlessness nor ignoring its emotional impact on her, this is a deeply empathetic movie that never questions the completeness of its protagonist’s life.

What stands out

Virginie Efira’s performance. Utterly radiant here, she magnifies the rosy warmth of the cinematography — good luck not falling in love with her yourself — but she’s also central to Zlotowski’s blending in of the bitter notes. Without ever giving explicit voice to them, she makes the stings of exclusion, rejection, and disappointment that Rachel feels abundantly, heartbreakingly clear — but never in a way that bogs the film down, always allowing it to bounce back into optimism.

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