Based on disturbing true events, Our Children (originally titled À perdre la raison – “to lose reason”) marks Lafosse’s fifth and most critically acclaimed feature, with lead actress Emilie Dequenne winning Canne’s prestigious Un Certain Regard award for her role as Murielle, a young woman slowly tumbling into an inescapable abyss of depression, under the weight of her unhappy home life.
Lafosse starts the film with one of the riskiest cinematic gambles a director can take: showing the ending of the film first. Unfortunately in this instance, the gamble does not pay off, and the integral plot of the film is already played out in the viewer’s mind mere moments after the initial credits have finished rolling. Our Children appears to be striving for a documentary style feel, adding tension and reality to the script, however, the subsequent openness makes viewing quite tedious, with a placid pace and uninspiring narrative.
Dequenne’s performance carries the film. Her honest emotional portrayal is at times moving, especially during a single-shot car journey where Lafosse uses provocative music to enhance the stifling mood permeating the entire film.
Niels Arestrup plays the role of passive-aggressive family doctor Andre Pinget with an unnerving callousness, creating tentative dynamics between Murielle and her increasingly belligerent husband Mounir, engagingly played by Tahar Rahim.
Lafosse chooses to flit between scenes, allowing the viewer to join the dots and create a personal idea of time passing, enhancing Murielle’s growing despondence and desperation, creating sympathy with the character that will later cause moral dilemma in the evocative final scene. The simplicity, although shocking in its frankness, is underwhelming in its cinematic potency, ultimately leaving the viewer cold (and not in the way intended).
Our Children is released nationwide on 10th May 2013.
Watch the trailer for Our Children here