REVIEW / FILM OPINION – “We smile for the photo”, director François Uzan’s first feature film, is a very successful delicate comedy about the evolution of a family. With Jacques Gamblin and Pascale Arbillot.
Jacques Gamblin prisoner of memories
We smile for the photo, the first feature film by director François Uzan, is a real masterstroke! He achieves the feat of showing a comedy subtly mixing laughter and tears about the evolution of a couple and a family. The strength of the film is precisely in the absolute credibility of this family, from the first minutes. The amazing cast has a lot to do with it: Jacques Gamblin is Thierry, a self-centered young retiree obsessed with classifying his old family vacation photos. Pascale Arbillot is Claire, still active and very out of step with this nostalgia for memories that agitates her husband.
As for the children, they have grown up well, even if Thierry cannot help but still put shame on Karine (Agnès Hurstel), their so serious daughter who has become a lawyer. Their son Antoine (Pablo Pauly) continues to behave like an eternal teenager at the expense of his parents, with many unfinished projects.
The key to smiling for the picture is undeniably authenticity and even the intimacy that invites itself into fiction. First, of the director who met alongside Jacques Gamblin and Pascale Arbillot in Bordeaux, told us ” having made a film that looks like him, without being completely autobiographical, but with a lot of his family life and his vacation memories “.
Then, the authenticity of the photographs that appear in the album of memories that Thierry lugs around. The director admits to having been a little scrupulous in asking Jacques and Pascale to deliver something very personal since they went to get original photos with real memories to feed the film album “. Finally, note the involvement of the actors in the film since the director ” accepted Pascale Arbillot’s requests to rewrite her character and was very open to proposals from all actors “.
We smile for the picture and re-enchant the present
The film very accurately questions what keeps a family in balance as its members have aged and the relationship between them has evolved. The viewer experiences great moments of joy by putting oneself in everyone’s shoes, like a salutary mirror effect with one’s memories. We are thus transported by the tender gaze that Thierry has on his loved ones or by the children who reconnect with their complicity and their childhood games. There is also emotion in front of Claire, at the crossroads of her life, who can no longer be satisfied with being this mother frozen forever in the past.
When Claire announces that she wants to leave Thierry, there is shock and disbelief for those who did not see or wanted to see his wife’s distress and boredom. Nothing was left to prove, everything seemed settled, forever. He then gives himself the chance to revive the happy memories of a stay in Greece, twenty years ago to try to win back his wife, but without telling the children the truth. And above all, to find himself at the origin of the happiness of four, without Karine’s spouse, Christophe (Ludovik), a Mr.-I-Know-It-All who annoys her prodigiously.
From misunderstandings to awkward moments, dressed in his ridiculous hastily bought t-shirts, Thierry strives to recreate the atmosphere of this year 1998 and the magic of the family dynamic which is no more. We smile for the picture is also a detailed analysis of today’s world, social networks, or the role of the photo taken via a smartphone. As well as how and why we make a memory, and how we look at life through the prism of a lens, without necessarily enjoying the present moment. The director took ten years to write and rewrite We smile for the picture and fine-tune it during filming. We are so grateful to him that the brilliant result lives up to its ambition thanks to subtly arranged ingredients that provoke pure emotion.
We smile for the picture by François Uzan, in theaters on May 11, 2022. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.