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Les Petites Vacances

DVD Three Stars
I wasn't sure what to expect from Les Petites Vacancies, and sometimes that's a great aspect of being sent screeners. There is a downside however as you have to watch films regardless of your mood. However Les Petites Vacancies does deliver a few surprises.

The film tells the story of a woman who is to deliver her grandchildren to her son for their holidays and then return home. However she decides that she wants to take the kids away for a short break, against the wishes of their parents, and her short break away becomes something a little longer than expected.

TheFilm.pngLesPetitesVacances.jpgIt's a very quiet film that flows on at a steady and certain pace, and for the French films I've seen that is a strong characteristic of them, and something I really do enjoy. They take their time to tell the story and never over tell it.

The parents continue to try and contact her, but she turns and runs from them at every opportunity, and soon it's clear that there is something behind this desire to stay away, and as the distance grows between them, the larger this something seems. Yet it's never fully revealed, there's no need for it to be revealed.

What is important here are the characters and their interactions, a priority that Hollywood has so often ignored or forgotten, something that they so often struggle to achieve.

It's this striking contrast of nothing really happening in the film which really sets it apart from more mainstream films. The events are insular and small, but in terms of the relationships that we never fully see (unless one-sided phone calls count) they are hugely important.

These quiet moments between characters or alone are the power of the film, the relationship of the grandmother and her granddaughter is really well told and very believable. She's at the stage of rebellion and wants to fight with her about everything. Watching the relationship develop is an interesting aspect of the film, but really it's the moments where the grandmother does something at odds with her character and the children suddenly take notice that are the strongest.

Watching the character of the grandmother develop and be described to the audience is the core of the film for me. As the situation becomes more and more out of her control and her behavior more and more desperate, the film draws you in. You do feel that you are alongside her experiencing the events as they unfold, partly down to the fact that you are never over told the story, you only learn things as the character herself does.

You experience the surprise at how the events continue to build up and the littlest decisions and denials grow and have such larger repercussions in the real world, the world outside the group's holiday.

The story isn't all that strong though, when the ending comes it feels like a rather large let down and there seems to be rather a lot left unexplored and unsaid. While I think this works well between the characters and continues the character relationships well, there's a huge implication of something darker. The story hints at something more, and yet it just walks away from it.

In one way it is a strong ending because it leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and in another it's rather frustrating as you want to know just that little bit more, perhaps minutes or even hours more in the characters story would have left a slightly more satisfying ending.

However as the Aerosmith song states, it's about the journey, not the destination, and here that means your growing attachment to the characters, particularly the very well played grandmother played by Bernadette Lafont.

She gives a touching and warm performance, manging to just slip the character to the wrong side of normal for a few moments where she loses her control. The best scene for her is when she visits the end of the wedding party in the hotel on her own and begins flirting with one of the guests. Their lonely flirting is a strong moment for her and her character, and it's beautifully scripted and acted. It's filled with a sorrow and sadness throughout, even in the warmest moments.

The children, particularly the older girl played by Adèle Csech, are very good and extremely natural. The scene that showed off their acting the most was the end, when the children are confused by their grandmother's behavior and her obvious sorrow and confusion.

There's nothing particularly special about the audio since it is only available in stereo.

With the strong framing of shots, some wonderful scenery and natural colours, the picture looks good and adds to the real feeling and helps you believe that you are part of the story rather than watching a film with hyped up or toned down colouring.

Extras.pngShort Documentary - Strictly Bernadette, Short Films - A Tes Amours, Claquage Après Etirents

Short Documentary - Strictly Bernadette
A short documentary looking at a number of moments from the life and career of the model and actress, Bernadette Lafont.

Short Films - A Tes Amours, Claquage Après Etirents
The two short films are almost as strong as the main feature itself, building character, exposing the story slowly letting us into it and experiencing it as the character does. They are very well written and look at a situation from a different point of view than would normally be expected. Once again they leave you with multiple ideas of what has and what will happen to the characters, and both films possess lovely framing and great movement of the camera.

Overall.pngThe film is nicely paced and focuses on the characters and their development. I really enjoyed the smaller scale of the story and the way that we learn events and happenings as the characters do, the story is never over told and we are made to almost feel part of the events.

I also like how the story stays so insular and never breaks out of the confines of the characters and their relationships, and manages to leave so much to the imagination. At the same time though, I felt that left the ending and the main character's story hanging a little, in need of a bit more time for exploration and understanding.

The acting is very natural and warm, and makes the characters seem so real, and with some lovely cinematography it also provides some lovely landscapes and backdrops.

Rent or buy the film from LOVEFiLM
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UK IMDB Film Details



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