French Film Review: Les Enfants des Autres

French Film Review: Les Enfants des Autres

When devoted high school teacher Rachel (Virginie Efira) falls in love with Ali (Roschdy Zem), it’s not long before she also falls for his four-year-old daughter Leila.

Soon, their lustful affair has settled down into cosy family picnics and school pick-ups. But although Rachel is beginning to feel very much like a mother, she is not allowed to forget that Lelia is, in fact, another woman’s daughter.

She begins to long for a child of her own, but as a 40-something woman, she is abundantly aware that time is ticking. She must decide whether to embrace her current situation and coparenting with Ali’s ex-wife Alice (Chiara Mastroianni), or strike out again on her own.

In the hands of director Rebecca Zlotowski, Les Enfants des Autres (Other People’s Children) becomes a soulful, resolutely grown-up story about the elusive quest for agency and belonging.

“There was a kind of gap between comic book representations on one hand – the evil ‘Disney’ stepmother from a world in which women died in childbirth and were replaced by young women unwilling and ill-equipped to love children who weren’t their own, burdens that came with marriage, and on the other hand overwhelmed stepmothers in reconstituted families in unevenly successful romantic comedies,” says Zlotowski.

“Where was the woman who nurtured an intimate and precious connection with the child or children, she was raising for years without having any herself, while accepting the risk of being erased from the equation once her relationship with the father ended?”

Beautifully acted with tender performances all round, this moving drama has light touches of comedy while never losing sight of what is an important, and for many, painful issue.

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Starring: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni

From France Today magazine

For more France Today film reviews click here.

Lead photo credit : Still from Other People's Children © Music Box Films

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