Review of C’est la vie (Film, 2021)

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REVIEW / OPINION FILM – “C’est la vie” by Julien Rambaldi, is a successful choral film which tackles birthing from different angles with humor and delicacy. With Josiane Balasko, Nicolas Maury, Léa Drucker, Youssef Hajdi and David Marsais.

What is a father?

Director Julien Rambaldi seems to like subjects that deal with the intimate, such as family and racism suffered (Welcome to Marly-Gomont) or friendship (The best friends in the world). In It’s life, with his co-scriptwriter Thomas Perrier, he tackles motherhood, birth, parenthood, and ultimately what makes a woman a mother and a man a father. And he succeeds, by mixing subtle humor, pure emotions and background reflections, in giving the viewer the possibility of identifying with one of his characters or of recognizing himself in certain situations.

That’s life © UGC Distribution

Because It’s life is a choral film, which avoids the pitfalls of this type of film quite well. The spectator indeed follows in a balanced way the parallel life paths of the five couples (the meetings, the difficulties in having a child, the nature of the couples, the conception). Neither really takes precedence over the other, although some couples are a bit more charismatic and some stories more poignant. But the comings and goings between the families are well paced and harmoniously arranged. Mothers all converge on a unit of place (motherhood) in a unit of time (a full moon evening, which popular belief considers to have an influence on the initiation of births).

The characters all have an endearing and moving side through their doubts, fears, expectations and flaws facing this unique moment, as Jean-Baptiste (Antoine Gouy) says. He who must manage the intrusive presence and the astrological whims and ode to Mother Nature of Mamoune (Anne Benoit), the mother of his companion Estelle (Sarah Stern), while he lives a personal drama that same day, confronting him even more with his role of father.

A full moon night like no other

What is touching in It’s life, it is the tender gaze that the director has on the fathers- the film could almost have been called “Birth of a Father”. Thus, Guillaume (David Marsais), in the provinces for his work, struggles to arrive in time for the difficult delivery of his wife Chloé (Florence Loiret-Caille), finally pregnant after numerous In Vitro Fertilization. He braves obstacles and elements with enthusiasm, with the help of Sandrine (Julia Piaton), a stranger who must absolutely return to Paris too.

As for Nathan (Youssef Hajdi), roaming father of 3 children, he organizes with calm, good humor and philosophy the life of his wife Manon (Léa Drucker) around her professional constraints. A brilliant alcoholic, she runs a space agency and negotiates with the French government, Guyanese trade unionists and Qatari clients … even in the delivery room, surrounded by her assistants. The director has (again) offered his companion in the city a beautiful role in particularly funny scenes, with very accurate metaphors between birth and childbirth of a satellite launch.

It's life
That’s life © UGC Distribution

Two other less standardized parenting situations are treated with great tact and realism. Thus the homosexual couple formed by Lan (Mélodie Richard) and Clémentine (Fadily Camara) hired a looser musician Gaëtan (Thomas Scimeca) to impregnate Lan. A progenitor who suddenly takes the urge to become a father, to the chagrin of Clémentine. And finally, the fifth couple, which is not really one since Sophie (Alice Pol) and Jérôme (Tom Leeb) met on an application and will only become so when the surprise baby is born. Because It’s life also discusses the place of each within the family, the couple or even the siblings (the reactions of the little girl who will welcome her half-brother are priceless). And what runs through the film is the love and the bond necessary to welcome a child.

All this little world is under the responsibility of the midwife Dominique (Josiane Balasko) and the new obstetrician Antoine Moretti (Nicolas Maury). The director delights in showing with humor the two schools which oppose and hate each other, but will get to know each other, admire and appreciate each other. So the old guard, rich in his experience and his (too much) humanity, and the young doctor imbued with himself and his theory.

Obviously – and this is the hallmark of a successful comedy – each character will be overwhelmed by these births, reveal themselves to themselves and begin a transformation …

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