Today I saw Our Summer in Provence, starring Jean Reno and Lukas Pelissier.
When Irene (Anna Galiena) takes in her daughter's children for the summer as she navigates a new world as a divorcee, her husband Paul (Reno) is furious. He has been estranged from their girl for 17 years and feels she's dumping her children upon them unfairly.
The children, Adrien (Hugo Dessioux), Léa (Chloé Jouannet) and Theo (Pelissier), are equally unexcited to be there, used to the fast Paris lifestyle. In their eyes, Provence is rural and boring and lacks a strong Internet signal. Plus, Theo is deaf, so only his brother and sister know how to properly communicate with him via sign language.
They all get off to a rough start with Léa's rebelling like her mother, and Adrian's typical teenage laziness acting as a catalyst for frustration from his grandfather. It seems for a while that Theo, who is proud to help with the olive trees on their estate, may be the only one willing to embrace the change.
As the summer continues, a problem Paul is battling comes front and center, and the family reaches a turning point. I can't say more than that without spoiling the film, but it's conventional, yet powerful.
In fact, that's a great way to sum up the whole film: conventional, yet powerful.
Where the main plot and characters are painfully formulaic, their story is redeemed my superb acting, gorgeous scenery and an abundance of scenes that don't take the dramatic too far.
The film made me think of my own family's dynamics and made me yearn for another European summer.
Our Summer in Provence screened at the 41st annual Seattle International Film Festival.