Brother and Sister (2022)

Brother and Sister (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Brother and Sister (2022)
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Melvil Poupaud, Golshifteh Farahani
Genre: Drama/Melodrama
Distributed by: Le Pacte
French: Frère et Sœur
Music by: Grégoire Hetzel
Release date: 20 May 2022 (France)
IMDB: 5.6/10
Language: French, Hebrew, and English
Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes


Brother and Sister (2022)


French director and screenwriter Arnaud Desplechin has been supplying viewers with mostly psychological dramas since the early 1990s. Perhaps the most famous of them is Jimmy P. from 2013, mainly thanks to the participation of Benicio Del Toro, who also won a César award for directing the three-year-old Three Memories. Like most of his previous films, Brother and Sister premiered at Cannes last year. The film has now been distributed by us, and it will appeal mainly to loyal fans of European art melodramas.

Its biggest currency is the cast. The central pair of siblings were played by the prolific French actor Melvil Poupaud and the star Marion Cotillard. While Alice is a successful stage actress, Louis’ life has fallen apart after the unexpected death of his young son. Together with his supportive wife Faunia (Golshifteh Farahani), he renovates a secluded farm and reminisces about his former career as a poet and literature teacher. They have not seen each other for a good twenty years, as they are consumed by mutual hatred. But after their parents are nearly killed in a car accident, they have to meet again, which of course opens up a lot of old wounds.

It is certainly no coincidence that Louis currently resides in Toulouse, southern France, while the rest of the family is at the other end of the country, not far from the Belgian border in Lille. Until the end of the film, we wonder a little about what happened between Louis and Alice, because otherwise, it is a functional middle-class family, at the center of which are kind and loving parents.

This tension maintains the audience’s attention, which is severely tested by the number of outtakes, digressions, flashbacks, and unexpectedly cut moments. We ask ourselves the question of who is to blame for the collapse of the sibling relationship, and without spoilers, we can only say that both are partially to blame. The final message about letting go of old grievances can be emotionally connected, but despite the considerable ambiguity, it sounds somewhat banal and underlines the melodramatic nature of the previous 100 minutes or so.

However, they drag on a bit, and watching endless episodes of a love-hate relationship becomes repetitive. A plus is the unclear boundary of reality, flirting with magical realism in some scenes, which goes hand in hand with the ambivalence of the protagonists. On the contrary, the preoccupation is reduced by the obnoxiously hysterical characters – both Louis and Alice behave quite theatrically, so the transformation of their inner negativity into theatrical or literary activity certainly does not go completely smoothly. Completely in line with this tension is also a hilarious incident from the filming, during which Cotillard and Poupaud were said not to talk at all, to deepen the animosity between their characters.

During the Cannes festival, French critics grunted in delight, later international reactions were not so enthusiastic. The strong dynamic between Cotillard and Poupaud deserves credit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the self-importance of many moments will turn some viewers off. On the contrary, the secondary characters, led by Faunia and Alice’s mysterious fan Lucia (Cosmina Stratan), do not get much space – although they are sometimes more interesting than the overly enigmatic protagonists.

However, probably few of this year’s films will better radiate the spirit of Frenchness with all the virtues and vices that go with it. So if you want, you can take this as a very cautious recommendation…

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