La Petite (2023)

September 22nd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Guillaume Nicloux | Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Ann Corsini, Maria Taquine | France/Belgium drama 97’| 

The medieval city of Ghent and the Belgian coastline make a handsome setting for this otherwise fraught family drama from Guillaume Nicloux (The Nun).

Based on Fanny Chesnel’s novel The Crib it stars Fabrice Lucchini as a lonely and fractious furniture restorer called Joseph whose estranged son and partner are killed in a car accident, making the old boy even more morose.

Joseph then discovers that the couple were expecting a child from a surrogate mother, so a moral responsibility rests on his shoulders, as the grandfather, to track down and befriend the surrogate, a fearsome Flemish virago called Rita Vandewaele. (Maria Taquine)

Being anti-social and uncomfortable out of his comfort zone, this is a difficult task for Joseph and the awkwardness of the situation gives rise to some mawkish humour that falls rather flat as Luchini tries his best to build a rapport with another unlikeable character. Ann Corsini is underused as the only ray of sunshine – apart from the baby – in this rather bland affair that leaves us as cold as its subject-matter. MT


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