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French film proves it's what's on the inside that counts
"The Day I Saw Your Heart" will be shown Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Historic Yuma Theatre, 254 S. Main St. The screening, part of the Arizona Western College Foundation’s Thursdays at the Theatre, includes an independent short film and a hosted discussion. Language is French, with English subtitles. Run time of the feature is 98 minutes; admission is $5.
The dramatic comedy “The Day I Saw Your Heart” has enough creative ideas for three movies. Not only does it braid together a number of entertaining story lines, it also mixes diverse elements from various cultures and geographical regions, spanning the Atlantic as well as the breadth of Europe. It even offers an unusual twist on the theme of multiple generations within a family.
Never too late
Seemingly, 20-something Justine has the good looks to have her pick of boyfriends, but somehow she's a serial failure at relationships. Having dumped yet another guy out of fear of future rejection, she's temporarily crashing on the couch of older half-sister Dom and her husband, Bertrand. This isn't really the best time for them to have an emotionally fragile houseguest, though, as they're getting regular visits from an adoption agency that's evaluating their fitness as potential parents.
All their lives are further complicated when one evening they go to dinner at the house of their dad, Eli, who announces that Suzanne, his much-younger second wife, is pregnant. Both the older daughters are distraught at this news, each for her own reasons. Dom and Bertrand have been trying to get pregnant for years, and now their parents are doing it again, even though dad, Eli, is 60.
For her part, Justine is furious that Eli would presume to raise another child, when he had been so distant and so often absent while she was growing up. She even blames him for her failure at relationships as an adult.
At least Justine has an outlet for her multiple frustrations. In her job as an X-ray technician, she often stays long past closing time taking artistic images of objects that she smuggles in from Dom's house: the toaster, the microwave, the fridge. When she meets her future ex-boyfriend, Sami — the cute Croatian from the shoe store across the street who comes in to get an X-ray of a bogus boxing injury — she takes images of all his parts, which she reconstructs as a life-sized effigy on Dom's picture window.
For a distant father, though, Eli can't seem to resist getting involved in Justine's affairs. It seems he's always been as attached to her beaux as she has, and he may still be in touch with some of them. He even wants to get in on the action of the X-ray art — with some possibly disturbing implications regarding his health.
A fragrant cocktail
Although the principal relationship is between father and daughter, this is essentially an ensemble film, reminiscent of Woody Allen's work at the peak of his powers in the 1980s. In fact, the character of Eli bears quite a resemblance to Allen's perennial persona — culturally, psychologically and even physically. They're both Jewish, neurotic and a bit dwarfish. But Eli adds a decidedly Continental twist, replacing Allen's endearing vulnerability with an unrepentant boorishness.
The role of Justine has a special charm as played by Melanie Laurent, who has had major roles recently in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Beginners.” In fact director Jennifer Devoldère wrote this part specifically for Laurent, who also played the central role in Devoldère's first film.
The character of Eli's younger wife, Suzanne, actually provides the structure for the film, with the various chapters being named after the stages of her pregnancy.
Overall, the various storylines converge in a clever and natural way to comment on the themes of love, forgiveness and redemption, and even to ask specific cultural questions such as, “When is a prosthesis kosher?”