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Saturday, June 06, 2009

SIFF Sighting: MOMMY IS AT THE HAIRDRESSER'S (drama; Canada)


We've all had times in our lives where we were ignorantly content—maybe our bills were paid, our job was secure and our loved ones were safe. Times where our biggest problems were finding the minutes to catch up on the newspapers or being late to a friend's dinner party.

The family in this film, the Gauvins, is in one of those zones, with the exception of the father, who is blissfully having an affair. While he tends to his mistress, his wife acts as the penultimate partner, and mother to their three children: the precocious Elise (Marianne Fortier), the inventive Coco (Elie Dupuis) and the possibly autistic Benoit (Hugo St-Onge-Paquin). She makes elaborate meals, plays the piano, looks after their education and maintains her looks with the utmost care.

When she is blindsided by the news of her husband's indiscretions, it's too much for her to take and she escapes to a new career in London, leaving behind the children that need her so desperately.

Each child is affected differently, but the weight of the loss weighs heaviest on Elise, who feels at once responsible for her younger brothers and reckless with anger. She begins to alternately disappear to a riverside retreat and rescue Benoit from various difficult situations. Marianne Fortier plays the role with such steadfast conviction, you almost have to wonder if she's endured an abandonment in real life.

Another great tidbit about the film is the authentic feel of the 60s—we can tell from the cat-eye glasses, the cars, and the Beatles references that we're in that era, but none of it feels forced.

With superb performances and a pitch-perfect lacing of Beethoven to give it the perfect touch, I can't help but recommend this film.

MOMMY IS AT THE HAIRDRESSER'S screened at the 35th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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