Ça C’est l’Amour (2018) *** Marrakech Film Festival 2018

December 1st, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Claire Burger; Cast: Bouli Lanners, Sarah Henochsberg, Justine Lacroix, Cecile Remy-Boutang, Celia Mayer; France/Belgium 2018, 98 min.

Claire Burger joint project Party Girl won the Camera d’Or in 2014. Her debut as solo director is another passionate family story, but this one suffers from thematic over-loading and a certain lack of structure, despite a fine central performance from Bouli Lanners. Just as the French title implies – “That is what love is” – Burger shows true love in all its forms: from the obsessive and  possessive to the pre-sexual, always reminding us, that none of these is ideal.   

Set in Forbach, northern France, where the Belgian filmmaker spend her formative years, this starts off as the usual dysfunctional family affair. Working in local government Lanners is a bumptious father to daughters Nikki (Henochsberg) and Frida (Laxroix). His regular spates with his long-suffering wife Armelle (Remy-Boutang) who works in the theatre, finally prove too much  and she walks out suddenly, leaving Mario in the lurch. Nikki is seventeen, and ready to fly the nest – despite Mario’s severe reservations. Nikki keeps boyfriend Nazim at a distance – after a kiss she tells him “not to get any ideas”. Tomboy Frida, the younger, wants to be ‘Daddy’s girl’ but also leave home for good. She has a more complicated relationship: girl friend Alex (Mayer), might be more experienced in love, but she can be a pain in the neck for Frida, who wants total acceptance. Mario is unable to come to terms with living without Armelle, following her to the theatre and making it clear that he expects her go come back. Meanwhile, his relationship with his daughters deteriorates. Clearly something will have to give, not only in the lives of these Belgians – but also in the film’s running time. There is really too much going on in her over-stuffed narrative where marginal characters are introduced – and incidents at Mario’s workspace spiral out of control. Real Love simply runs out of space. The inter-familiar conflicts, as presented in first act are just about enough. Burger somehow fails to find a structure to do justice to her main characters. That said, there’s plenty of humour to save this from veering into a dire lecture about role models. Lanners excels in the comedy moments – the same goes for Henochsberg and Lacroix, the latter leaving the strongest impression on the feature. Burger’s error’s are mostly due to her lack of experience: we can certainly look forward to more from her in future.



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