A beautifully cast French master piece, originally known as 'Le Clan'.
Three brothers as diverse as their internal struggles, face their inner demons after the untimely death of their mother. One implodes after descending into a world of grief and unsaid emotion, whilst his father seems incapable of understanding. Another finds compromise in conformity, believing that if he pleases his father and does what he is told, then there is no need to think on things past. Then there is the younger, who initially seems frail and in need of protection, only to emerge as the brother who least requires it despite the demands of his father.
It is indeed devastating to loose a beloved mother whilst transcending from a boy into a man, and those that have experienced this in their own lives will know how such can both directly and indirectly impact on their lives. It is equally destructive to have a father misconstrue grief as weakness, and demand that his sons move beyond that grief. Social demands and false expectations rooted in normative versions of masculinity are tools of destruction often used by people without understanding. Grief is not a weakness, and men are entitled to grieve for however long they need.
Such can mould a boy's psyche, forcing him into a world where honest emotion is made void, and tragedy and ever present reality. Then there are the other demands of adolescence which must find expression in the middle of all of this, and each boy finds himself forced to face the truth of themselves.
Anyone who has faced such a truth in their own lives knows that when presented with the brutal, honest reality of oneself in a time of grief, he or she either embraces that truth or flees from it. So it is with the three brothers portrayed in this mesmerising film. Two of them fail horribly, albeit in different ways. Whilst one emerges victorious, despite his own impediments and in a manner which surprises the audience.
Like most French cinema this film explores the dynamic of raw emotion, believing that the whole experience of art is within itself a demand for cinematic success. Pretty actors are within themselves not good enough, as the director forces each actor to face the bitter and uncomfortable. They have to experience the pain of the characters in order to portray them. The scripting is superb, with a strong leading dynamic, cleverly infused with comedy and wit. The actors ability to portray such is a testament to the Directors dynamic and their professionalism. He has indeed spent a great deal of time on the relationships portrayed in the film, and his success is without question.
One is left breathless, moved and enriched, as one should.