HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
   
 
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
   
 
  Famille Bélier, La Hear my songBuy this film here.
Year: 2015
Director: Eric Lartigeau
Stars: Karin Viard, François Damiens, Eric Elmosnino, Louane Emera, Roxane Duran, Ilian Bergala, Luca Gelberg, Mar Sodupe, Stéphan Wojtowicz, Jérôme Kircher, Bruno Gomila
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: As the only one able to hear in the otherwise all-deaf Bélier family teenage Paula (Louane Emera) is indispensable to her parents Gigi (Karin Viard) and Rodolphe (François Damiens) and younger brother Quentin (Luca Gelberg). She helps run their dairy farm and essentially acts as their ears and voice, serving as a sign language interpreter at their cheese stall in the town market. However, the school choir master Monsieur Thomasson (Eric Elmosnino) discovers Paula has another talent: a remarkable singing voice. Impressed with Paula's ability, Monsieur Thomasson urges her to audition for the Maîtrisse de Radio France, an elite choir in Paris. Yet Paula's parents, who rely on her as their means of communication with the outside world, react badly to the news. Torn between dreams of singing and fear of betraying her beloved family, Paula grapples with a painful dilemma.

The highest-grossing French-language film of 2015 earned several César awards including a well-deserved Best Newcomer prize for talented ingenue Louane Emera, but was less warmly received elsewhere. In fact in some countries members of the deaf community chose to boycott La Famille Belier as what The Guardian described as "yet another another cinematic insult to the deaf." In an article penned for the British newspaper Rebecca Atkinson pondered "when will someone write a story about a deaf person that doesn't involve the cliché of 'losing' music." Atkinson argued that the deaf community do not regard an inability to enjoy music as any great loss but rather such thinking reflects the 'cultural myopia' of the mainstream fixated on disability as an obstacle. By comparison a great many cite the Ukranian drama The Tribe (2014) as a more progressive, unsentimental view of the deaf community.

While Atkinson and others that followed her lead raise some pertinent criticisms in a way their view of La Famille Belier is equally myopic. Far from presenting the Bélier clan as tragic figures entrapped by their 'handicap', the film draws them as lively, feisty, multifaceted characters who are more than capable at running their own business and take great joy in their daily lives. In fact a key subplot has Rodolphe run for public office to oppose the mayor's plan to sell agricultural land to property developers. At one point he tells Paula being deaf is not a handicap but an identity and boldly observes is no more a hindrance to public office than the skin colour of U.S. President Barack Obama. Whilst the decision to cast non-hearing impaired actors in deaf roles marks a missed opportunity, Karin Viard and François Damiens give engaging performances as exuberant, likeable characters.

Conceived by co-screenwriter Victoria Bedos, daughter of famed comedian Guy Bedos, who has since gone on to write and star in another coming of age film Vicky Banjo (2016), the premise admittedly ladles on the irony extra thick: girl with a beautiful voice born to deaf parents. As French comedies go La Famille Bélier is not a low-key auteur effort but a broad crowd-pleaser in keeping with Eric Lartigeau's previous work (e.g. the Eric Chabat-Charlotte Gainsbourg rom-com I Do (2006), The Players (2010) with Jean Dujardin though offbeat thriller The Big Picture (2010) co-starring his wife Marina Fois and Romain Duris marked a change of pace). Which is not entirely a bad thing. At heart the plot spins a feel-good yarn not much different from High School Musical (2005) or TV's Glee, hitting all the elements (misfit with hidden talent breaks barriers to win contest and hunky guy) likely to resonate with a young audience beyond language barriers. This could well prove a gateway film to introduce young viewers to French cinema. It helps that rather than some brassy proto-Streisand, the beguiling Emera plays Paula as a gutsy but vulnerable heroine as awkward and uncertain about her new-found talent as she is excited.

Early on a hilarious visit to the town doctor to discuss genital fungus (!) illustrates how much the Béliers depend on Paula to communicate with the hearing world. She is their only voice and it is understandable they do not want to give her up. Yet the story arc is as much concerned with Paula learning to embrace her role within the family as with them coming to grips with this talent everyone else is raving about. Despite minor flaws the film proves a clever and, yes, heartwarming fable dealing with the tension between family loyalty and personal desire.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1047 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: