A KID” (“LE FILS DE JEAN”)— Finding Family


Finding Family

Amos Lassen

Thirty-five year-old Parisian divorcee Matthieu (Pierre Deladonchamps) has a six-year-old son he sees on weekends. Dedication to a demanding job in business keeps him from writing crime novels and this is what h really loves. He has only written one, but it has been quite a success.. One day he gets a phone message from Quebec that his father, whom he’s never known, (he didn’t even know he was alive, has died, and left him a package. His father was Jewish (he didn’t know that either) and the internment will be in a couple of days. He flies to Montreal, and from this point on, the film focuses on the few days of Matthieu’s time in Canada and its surprises and revelations. Director Philippe Lioret works quietly and brings us a story filled with many small details that is basically a search for personal identity and fatherhood. We see it as a mystery story.

Matthieu is met at the airport by Pierre (Gabriel Arcand), his late father’s longtime doctor friend, who at first, for a while actually, isn’t very friendly. Matthieu isn’t interested in the funeral, only in meeting the two brothers he’s just learned about. Pierre agrees only if Matthieu doesn’t reveal who he is.

It also turns out the father died while fishing on a lake, probably of a heart attack, and his body has not been recovered. The two brothers (Pierre-Yves Cardinal and Patrick Hivon), decide to search the lake again, and Matthieu gets involved, pretending to be a friend on vacation. Pierre goes too, to prevent revelations. There’s a violent drunken quarrel between the brothers that reveals misunderstandings about inheritance. Later Matthieu, whose identity Pierre has revealed to his own family, gets friendly with Pierre’s daughter and two little granddaughters, and eventually receives another revelation from his wife.

What is surprising is that in Montreal, no one had  knowledge of Matthieu’s existence and doesn’t seem to want to know … but he was called to be informed of the death. This kind of story of the son who finds a father he has never known is not new, but the treatment here makes all the difference. It is much in the unsaid and many surprises of the narrative that keeps interest high. Pierre Deladonchamps is remarkable in this film as well as Gabriel Arcand who  adds up emotions through his character giving tenderness and the sensibility of the story.

This is a warm-hearted, audience-friendly movie that looks at family love and personal identity, taking these issues to emotional depths that profoundly touch the viewer. Pierre gets grumpy at the idea that Mathieu wants to meet the family he never knew existed immediately. They also lost their mother only recently, and will be having a traditional Jewish funeral in two days. Mathieu had never had any idea that he was Jewish. And it turns out that his surname Edel was originally Edelstein.

Les yeux au ciel
photos: Sébastien Raymond.

The funeral will not be an easy affair to organize. This is because Jean, who as far as Pierre can deduce based on his friend’s two previous cardiac episodes, suffered a heart attack while fishing and fell into the lake, meaning his body has yet to be discovered. In Jewish law there can be burial only if there is something to bury. From the woods and looking for the father’s body, , Lioret takes us on a ride through family relations (including Pierre’s own, with his charming wife, daughter and two granddaughters) that occasionally get ugly, are sometimes endearing, but always relatable

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