Other People’s Children Review: Borrowed loves

To the French filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowski has always liked to capture a different, rebellious and daring femininity in her filmography from that young woman with a taste for illegal races in ‘Belle épine’ to that liberated twenty-something woman who breaks with the concepts of Arab culture in ‘An easy girl’. The director takes a real leap forward with her fifth feature film, ‘Other People’s Children’ presented in the Official Selection of the 79th Venice Festival and awarded the prize for best editing at the 18th Seville Festival.

the children of others

‘Other People’s Children’ focuses on a reality that cinema has rarely dealt with humanity and the charisma it demanded, that of middle-aged women who have not had children (either by their own decision or because life has led them not to have children). The protagonist of it is Rachel Friedman, a 45-year-old high school teacher, specialized in teaching adolescents at risk of social exclusion. The woman is having an illusion with Ali, an industrial car designer, also a middle-aged man whom she met in guitar lessons.

The film begins as if it were a romantic comedy., boy meets girl, a dream evening, followed by a night of passion. And it is after finishing the frenzy where the film begins to show his letters, when Rachel sees that in Ali’s apartment there is a room that clearly belongs to a girl and to see that his budding love is divorced and has a four-year-old daughter. From there, Zlotowski focuses on how a person begins a relationship with another, with all its consequences that is, with that metaphorical backpack that happens to live with other people’s children from a previous relationship.

the children of others

Really, What Zlotowski, who also signs the script, narrates is life itself. There is nothing strange in a world in which it is common to find half-siblings or arrejunta couples in which each party brings offspring from previous relationships or in which one of them does not have descendants. Nevertheless, Rarely has the focus been placed on this reality, much less with the humanity and affection with which Zlotowski does it with a childless woman who suddenly finds herself taking care of and taking responsibility for a four-year-old girl that makes her rethink her own decisions.

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A film full of humanity and affection

Here is Virginie Efira, who has proven in recent years to be one of the best actresses of her generation, the one who has the challenge of showing the different prisms of the role of the stepmother, a family position little considered in public opinion. Zlotowski not only dignifies it, but knows how to give it extraordinary depth, introducing a series of everyday situations that delve into the important detailsin how an apparently banal comment becomes a clear gesture of grave contempt or how an alien situation can lead to a terrible marital argument.

Zlotowski shoots, perhaps, his most personal film (declared by the filmmaker herself, who was inspired by her own sentimental reality to create the story and the protagonist and who, due to the paradoxes of fate, became pregnant during filming). The director captures a film whose feminist spirit is seen in every daily gestureespecially in relation to the non-maternity of its protagonist, whose decision not to have children is a constant question that she asks herself, especially when her gynecologist warns her that her biological clock indicates that her time is running out. “It’s not that I think a woman isn’t complete without children, but it’s a collective experience that I don’t have access to”he comes to say in a scene.

the children of others

On the other hand, the filmmaker builds a careful portrait of what it means to face a couple who comes with the ‘extra’ of having children, about how to enter an already created circle, like those actors who enter the second season of a successful series and who have the challenge of dazzling an audience accustomed to certain characters. Also the fact that younger relatives have children, which show that uncomfortable look that is given to those who, being older, have not had children.

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In that sense, Zlotowski makes a masterpiece, the roundest of his filmography. The filmmaker has the virtue of turning the everyday into a cinematographic experience, in the vein of Mikhaël Hers, with a feminine gaze in which she endows her characters with a profound humanism and in which puts on the front page realities that exist but have not had that leading moment that they so deserve on the big screen (Even in the small details, like that moment in the shower in which the camera captures the naked body of the man, to show how she is attracted to her partner). In addition, with a positive approach, with bright scenes and a look that she sees ahead.

‘Other People’s Children’ honors the declarations of the director to be a tribute to those independent, free women who decided not to have children. A cinematographic jewel, splendid and full of affection for his characters, whom Zlotowski endows with an unusual humanity, in which a good person can hurt another, life itself, portrayed with that affection that only great filmmakers are capable of capturing for the public.

Note: 9

The best: A formidable protagonist, who conquers the hearts of the public. Virginie Efira is splendid.

Worst: That the French Film Academy has completely ignored this gem at the César 2023.

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