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the belier family

La Belier- second

Now hear this. One of the funniest films of the season is about a deaf French family called THE BELIER FAMILY.

You heard right. In the Belier family everyone is deaf except for daughter, Paula, the vivacious sixteen year old who serves as interpreter for her mum and dad and baby brother in the running of their dairy farm.

If everything you’ve heard is that this film is funny, poignant, sad and uplifting, then believe everything you’ve heard, because this family is well worth spending time with. And what quality time it is, with seasoned performers Francois Damiens and Karin Viard as the parents, and sensational newcomer Louane Emera as Paula.

There’s a forthrightness with the hearing impaired that is brusque, thorny and yet appealing, and this fine film shows the drama and comedy that comes with such unbridled candour. In this context, the film is full of off-key yet totally realistic situations. For example, the scene at the gynaecologist’s is very funny but also extremely unsettling in relation to our usual social codes: the parents are forced to use Paula to talk about their sex lives in the doctor’s office. They are able to talk about sex without any taboos. That’s simply how it is. Actually, the farmers are like their farmyard animals, screwing at any given moment, gleefully uninhibited.

This gleeful uninhibitedness is certainly a great ingredient of the film’s charm, a freedom of speech in the true sense, unconstrained candour that is strangely liberating.

The recent Golden Globes awards were so hard pressed to find a best comedy or musical film that they awarded the trophy to The Martian, a film about a marooned astronaut. Clearly, this Critics Circle had not viewed THE BELIER FAMILY, a film that featured a high quotient of both comedy and music, and depicts an alien environment much closer to home.

Sydney Arts Guide has two double passes to give away to the first two readers to email Please put The Belier Family Giveaway in the subject heading and please provide your postal address in the body of your email. Winners will be advised by return email.


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