The film “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” explores the recesses of a family that is falling apart over time. Is the feature film the mirror of the director’s life?
5 days of joy and tears
In 2008, Rémi Bezançon signs a moving feature film on the family. Entitled The first day of the rest of your lifethe film tells the story of the Duvals, a family made up of five distinct members.
The mother, Marie-Jeanne, played by Zabou Breitman, is in the middle of a midlife crisis. The father, Robert, played by Jacques Gamblin, is nostalgic for the good old days with his children. And the latter: Albert in search of independence (Pio Marmaï), Raphaël the dreamer (Marc-André Grondin) and Fleur the rebellious teenager (Déborah François).
A family portrait that is both moving and painful, told over a period of twelve years, but where only five days are revealed. By constructing his film in this way, the director wishes to show “how in a family some determine the others”. He explained it like this to the press :
The idea of filming five decisive days in everyone’s life was imposed as soon as the script was written. Even within the family, beings very different from each other live together. I thought that a star construction would better show this otherness. Each of the five days corresponds to a member of the family whom we follow as closely as possible from morning until evening.
Film each subject differently
Each day shown on the screen corresponds to a person. Thus, the director films the day Albert emancipates himself, the day of Fleur’s 16th birthday, a journey through time of Raphaël, the mother on a depressing day in her fifties, and terrifying news for the father of the family. . In order to better stick to the life of each of the protagonists and respect their moods, Rémi Bezançon chooses a different way of filming for each person.
We have made sure with Antoine Monod, the film’s cinematographer, that each day has its own cinematographic logic, that it is treated each time through the prism of the character we are following. For example, the day of Albert, the eldest son who leaves the family nest, was filmed in short focal length, which has the particularity of accentuating the distances, of distancing the subjects from each other and therefore of emphasizing the taking of independence of the character.
So he uses a steadycam, floating camera, like Raphaël’s character. Then a handheld camera for Flower, long focal lengths for Marie-Jeanne, and a “peaceful image” for Robert. Cinematographic shots chosen with care.
An autobiographical story?
These colorful characters, model representatives of an average family, are necessarily inspired by what the director knows. Although he projected himself into all the protagonists, Rémi Bezançon assures us that the Duval family is in no way autobiographical. Rather, the film represents an identifiable family universe for each of us.
Of course, I was inspired by what I know. Though to my knowledge my mom hasn’t run over a squirrel or a dog, and my dad probably believes Led Zeppelin is an airship and Oasis is an orange juice drink. I have two older brothers and a little sister who we brooded over a bit, like in the movie. Their journey has nothing to do with my characters, of course… Even if in the first version of the scenario, the Duval children were four, like us!
With this movie, however, the filmmaker pays tribute to those close to him.
My own family means a lot to me and, even if the film is not autobiographical, I wanted to pay homage to them in my own way. I always wondered who I would have been if I had been raised by parents other than mine. Surely someone completely different.
Regarding the character of Marie-Jeanne, who smokes something other than her husband’s cigarettes, Rémi Bezançon humorously recalls that his mother is not a fan of this consumption.
Even if I was inspired a little by my family circle to write this film, any resemblance with existing characters would be purely coincidental: my mother does not smoke joints, Marie-Jeanne does!