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Cafe de Flore

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Canada, 2011

Cornerhouse, 12 May 2012

Cafe de Flore

A man leaves his wife for another, younger woman; a mother keeps her Down’s syndrome child, raising him alone when his father up sticks and leaves.

What unites the two traumatic situations is a top song (Cafe de Flore) and some dodgy metaphysics, inspired perhaps by the work of Ian Stevenson.

The film triumphs because its intriguing structure draws you in (it is unclear for most of it how these two stories relate meaningfully to one another, though of course they must) and because the quality of the performances, not least from Vanessa Paradis, pop princess of yesteryear, makes the emotion so real.

On reflection, you might feel a little bit cheated; manipulated, bruised somewhat.  For – as with The Sixth Sense, say – you can pick holes with the premise.  Unless the ex-wife were to don the honest guise of unreliable narrator, then it would have some coherence and consistency.  Anyway, if prone to such grey thoughts, recall to mind the fine child actors who played Laurent and Vera and those feelings should soon pass.

A fine film.