The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
An enormous hit at the French box office, writer-director Remi Bezancon’s second feature explores the highs and lows of middle-class suburban family life. Split into five chapters, each of which offers the perspective of a different member of the ‘ordinary’ Duval clan, the film picks out five significant days in the characters’ lives between 1988 and 2000. Thus eldest son and medical student Albert (Pio Marmai) leaves home, teenage daughter Fleur (Déborah François) contemplates losing her virginity, and middle child Raphael (Marc-Andre Grondin) remembers a romantically charged encounter with a female air-guitarist. As for the parents, mother Marie-Jeanne (Zabou Breitman) ponders an extra-marital affair, while father Robert (Jacques Gamblin) receives an unexpected medical diagnosis.
Less substantial than either Summer Hours or A Christmas Tale, two other recent French family sagas, the slickly photographed and scored The First Day of the Rest of Your Life breezes its way through its narrative coincidences. Bookended by Super 8mm footage of the Duvals themselves larking around on the beach and in the garden in blissful times, it ultimately presents a sentimental vision of ‘la vie famille’, even if the performances of the attractive ensemble cast are undeniably engaging.
GFT, Glasgow from Fri 4-Thu 10 Dec. Cameo, Edinburgh and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 11 Dec. See profile.