Skylab or ‘Le Skylab’ to give it the original French title is a semi autobiographical film from French film maker Julie Delpy (’2 Days in Paris’ and ‘Before Midnight’). She takes us back to the laconic summer of 1979 when she, portrayed as ‘Albertine’, enjoys a family reunion in Brittany; this is to celebrate the 67th birthday of her grandmother. The disparate wings of the family gather at a picturesque farmhouse for partying, drinking and making merry, as well as the obligatory family tussles.
The title comes from the events that were unfolding in outer space when the US Skylab space probe was descending to Earth and was allegedly destined to land somewhere in their vicinity. The children have their rivalry as do the parents and themes of imminent destruction are discussed as well as the angst of growing up and the emotions that the onset of the teenage years can bring. This is though billed as a comedy and whilst there are moments of humour albeit mostly the awkward kind, no-one is going to burst a blood vessel actually laughing at this. There is some well observed seventies sexism, some clichéd politico stances and lots of people smoking. The period detail is really good with yellow head lights, the legendary Renault 4 and flares.
The plot though does seem to meander and it almost has the feel of a home video in places as the dialogue is so free flowing as to appear almost unscripted – which I am sure was intentional. My favourite part was the kids disco where we have a heady mix of music that included Gilbert O’Sullivan, one hit wonder Patrick Hernandez and the onset of punk with the ‘Dead Kennedys’ doing their lovely ditty about the effects of manhood on the libido. So a fair amount to like but not enough to be able to rave about in this film. It is though well above average and I found it quite enjoyable hence my rating.