How I Killed My Father

Movie Review by Dave Blair

Starring: Michel Bouquet, Charles Berling, Natacha Regnier, Amira Casar, Stephane Guillon
Director: Anne Fontaine

With a young wife and a large house in the Paris suburbs, the life of David Berlinger’s Jean-Luc appears complete until the return of his long-estranged father Maurice (Michel Bouquet) in this suffocating tale of oedipal tension from Anne Fontaine.

The way Maurice treats his son is despicable – he looks at Jean-Luc’s self-made success with cruel indifference – and yet it is difficult not to be seduced by his charisma. In the company of friends and even strangers he displays awesome charm and heart-warming affection. The rapport that develops between Maurice and his beautiful and glamorous daughter-in-law (Natacha Regnier) is particularly enjoyable; the contrast of his relaxed manner with the seething resentment of his son making the viewer take more to the bad father than his victim.

The lush Versailles setting, and understated string arrangements provide a soft background to offset the tension, but it’s the taut dialogue and excellent performances – from Bouquet in particular – which make this a thoroughly absorbing piece of work.

5 out of 6 stars