All Is Forgiven

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San Francisco International Film Festival

SAN FRANCISCO --Writer/director Mia Hansen-Love's first feature, "All is Forgiven," a keenly observed study in intimacy that has the rhythm and feel of real life, announces the arrival of an intriguing sensibility. Technically accomplished and finely acted without artifice by a talented ensemble cast, it's an astutely written, mature work in its content, understated, naturalistic style and sensitive rendering of complex emotion.

A sudden, inconclusive ending that comes out of left field will leave some unsatisfied. Plus an ostensibly depressing subject, the disintegration of a family, could limit its art house potential in the U.S. This slice of life picture, punctuated by poetry and cultural discourse, may fare better in European markets and on the festival circuit.

Playing Victor, a feckless aspiring poet coasting through life on little more than boyish good looks and charm, actor Paul Blain reveals the fault lines underneath his character's amiable, sometimes volatile demeanor. When Victor descends into the drug addiction, which inevitably destroys his relationship with his exasperated Austrian wife, Annette (Marie-Christine Friedrich), and his young daughter, Pamela (Victoire Rousseau), it seems like a natural progression. Unfolding with minimal exposition, the story, set in Vienna and Paris, picks up 11 years later with Pamela (Constance Rousseau, Victoire's older sister), now a young woman, warily reuniting with her father after a long estrangement. The reading aloud of letters between them, a conceit that could bring the film to a halt, is handled with finesse. Rousseau, a shimmering, delicate beauty, brings a combination of tentativeness and resolve to Pamela, a product of a fractious home embarking on her own life. Production designers Sophie Reynaud and Thierry Poulet get the telling accoutrements just right, from the rambling chaos of the bourgeois family residence to a struggling couple's suffocating apartment. Pascal Auffray's luminous cinematography, shot through with painterly light, brings to mind the pastoral idylls and muted urban landscapes of the Impressionists.

Wistful folk songs underscore the sorrow of missed connections, a condition that plagues Hansen-Love's intelligent, wounded characters.

Production Company: Les Films Pelleas. Cast: Paul Blain, Marie-Christine Friedrich, Victoire Rousseau, Constance Rousseau, Carole Franck, Olivia Ross. Director: Mia Hansen-Love. Screenwriters: Mia Hansen-Love. Executive Producers: not listed. Producer: David Thion. Director of Photography: Pascal Auffray. Production Designer: Sophie Reynaud, Thierry Poulet. Music: not listed. Costume Designer: Eleonore O'Byrne, Sophie Lifshitz. Editor: Marion Monnier. Sales Agent: Pyramide International. No rating, 100 minutes.
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