The House By the Sea review – stagey goings-on in the south of France | Film

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Robert Guédiguian has returned to Marseille, with its bright, fresh sunshine and the Mediterranean’s habitual dazzling blue. It never seems to rain in his Marseille – maybe to compensate for the bad psychological weather.

Again, Guédiguian has assembled his family-repertory cast of veterans. Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Gérard Meylan play middle-aged siblings Angèle, Joseph and Armand, who are uneasily reunited when their widowed father suffers a stroke, and they have to work out how they feel about each other and about their hometown.

The film is so similar to other Guédiguian’s movies that perhaps it should be regarded as another episode of a continuing epic, another variation on a long-running orchestral theme. Either way, I have to admit that, however well-intentioned and well-crafted, there is something self-regarding and stagey in its narrative contrivances. These include an earnest plot point about migrant children hiding in the surrounding hills, being discovered and sheltered by the caring siblings, but whose function is to provide an almost magically miraculous redemption for the emotional pain suffered by Angèle: the terrible loss that drove her away and which is rendered in a rather silly, hammy, black-and-white flashback.

Elsewhere in town, an elderly couple are in crisis because their unscrupulous new landlords hike the rent by 300%. This leads to a terribly sad outcome, which the movie rather perfunctorily moves away from, and which may have been inspired by the superior dramas of Michael Haneke. Guédiguian gives us a sudden, sensational flashback clip of these actors in their younger days in the same place with Bob Dylan on the soundtrack. It’s a great moment. But what’s the point? It just seems part of the overall complacency.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The House By the Sea review – stagey goings-on in the south of France | Film

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