Run time: 103 mins
Eric Lartigau’s heart-warming comedy drama fills the eyes and ears with cheeky charm.
In the Bélier family everyone is deaf except dutiful 16 year old Paula (Louane Emera) who acts as the indispensable translator for her parents and younger brother Quentin. When Paula discovers at a school choir audition that she possesses the most amazing soprano voice, her music teacher suggests she try out for the prestigious Radio France school in Paris. With her extraordinary talent for music out in the open, Paula’s close bond with her family is challenged.
Emera (her debut acting role and a recipient of Most Promising actress at the 2015 César Awards) is simply wonderful as the slight teen hiding a golden voice. But as Paula’s parents, Karin Viard and François Damiens prove why they are French cinema’s go-to character actors. Whatever the arguments about hearing performers in deaf roles, they are utterly believable and utterly brilliant in the context.
“Feel-good” is the phrase most commonly, somewhat lazily, associated with comic crowd-pleasers and there’s a tendency to underestimate films that work so well at playing our emotions. Thankfully, The Bélier Family earns every tear and chuckle. (Research Chris Coetsee)