La Vie de famille
and the Cinema of Jacques Doillon
An in-depth examination of Jacques Doillon's 1985 film…
An affecting story about a father's attempts to mend the breaches in the relationship between himself and his 10-year-old daughter, La Vie de famille (Family Life), is a prime of example of director Jacques Doillon's affecting and thoughtful examinations of family dynamics.
Emmanuel (Sami Frey) is the father of Elise (Mara Goyet) by his first marriage, and the stepfather of the older Natascha (Juliette Binoche), by his second marriage to Mara (Juliet Berto). He tries to make the best of both family relationships, but his visits to Elise at the weekends only make his new family jealous – especially Natacha. She herself is volatile and resentful towards Emmanuel. One weekend, after a particularly emotional send-off, Emmanuel and Elise take a trip from the south of France into Spain, working together on a film project.
Through a series of round-about conversations, Emmanuel manages to open up a few channels of communication with Elise – channels that expand even wider when he uses the technique of talking into the video camera to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise would have remained hidden. Celebrated auteur Jacques Doillon's La Vie de famille portrays a thoroughly modern family structure in all it's complexities, led by Emmanuel, who is constantly torn between his current family and the one he formed in the past.
As originally conceived the character of Natacha was to be 14 years old, but having seen an audition tape featuring Juliette Binoche, Doillon was so impressed that he changed his script to make the character older so he could cast her, something which added a whole new dimension to his film. La Vie de famille, was a significant role for Juliette Binoche and her first close collaboration with an auteur. It set the tone for Juliette Binoche's burgeoning career.
Simon de La Brosse