[Film review] Other People’s Children [Les enfants des autres]

Review by John P. Harvey.

Starring the ever superb Virginie Efira as Rachel, a Parisienne high-school teacher with genuine compassion for her most problematic students, and Roschdy Zem as Ali, Rachel’s new boyfriend, Other People’s Children focuses on a blossoming romance before gradually compassing the broader love that includes Ali’s nearly-five-year-old daughter, Leïla (Callie Ferreira-Goncalves).  Rachel’s love for Ali has given her an entire family of love and joy and related heartache.

Variations on the joy and pain in finding love for Leïla are not the only feelings breaching the surface of Rachel’s awareness; she is caught too between her wish to have a child and fears arising from her past.

Fortunately, the relationship between Ali and his separated wife, Leïla’s mother, Alice (Chiara Mastroianni), remains amicable.  And even as Rachel and Leïla’s attachment enriches their lives, Alice is at least polite to Rachel’s face.

Ali has his own priorities, though.  What will emerge when the melting pot of love, fear, and regret comes to the boil?

Efira’s character study of a complex woman who, enriched by the love of a man and his daughter, is also becoming conscious of her biological clock emerges through her usual consummate acting, to which fine acting by the film’s child star adds a lovely depth to their relationship.  Subtle voice cues convey much in the film, but nuances in the relationships between the three leads really shine through the film’s revealingly beautiful cinematography.

A lovely portrait, albeit fictional, of wholesome family relationships and their vulnerabilities, Other People’s Children will leave a tenderness in your heart for its characters.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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