The French film, “Lola and Her Brothers,” directed by Jean-Paul Rouve, closed the 10-day Stony Brook Film Festival on Saturday night, July 27. There was a very diverse list of films shown at the festival, some came from the U.S. and as close as Canada, while other films came from as far as India and Israel. But “Lola et Ses Frères” was, without a doubt, the perfect film to conclude such an event. The movie had a little bit of everything: comedy, romance, drama and even blown-up buildings — if that can be considered action!
The heartwarming movie is about the unbreakable bond between three siblings — Lola, played by Ludivine Sagnier, Benoît, played by Jean-Paul Rouve and Pierre Esard, played by José Garcia. Benoît, is an optician and is the oldest; Pierre, works in demolition and is the middle child and Lola is a lawyer and the youngest of the three.
Regardless of the circumstances in their lives, they always meet at their parents’ graves. There, they update their parents and each other on how their lives are going. Throughout the film, each of the Esnard siblings goes through very pivotal moments in their lives.
We accompany Benoît from the beginning of his third marriage all the way to the birth of his first child, Simone. Despite his previous marriages, Benoît remained absolutely clueless, which makes him a very endearing character in the film. Despite his complete lack of insight, he has the best of intentions. He’s so unprepared for the daunting task of becoming a father that he almost leaves for the hospital without his pregnant wife on the day of his child’s birth. To me, that scene is the most memorable in the movie because of how funny it is. Rouve gives a spectacular performance as Benoît Esnard.
Pierre is just as hilariously oblivious as his older brother. When we first meet Pierre, he is rushing with his son, Romauld, to Benoît’s third wedding. Pierre misses the ceremony, despite being the best man. He continues to put his foot in it; during his best man speech, he forgets his sister-in-law’s name. Pierre, for being a single father of a teenager going into adulthood, seemed to be handling things fairly well. He had a stable job in demolition until he and his team demolished a building and damaged those in the surrounding areas. This grave mistake cost Pierre his job and was a secret he unsuccessfully tried to keep from his siblings as well as his son. Garcia does a marvelous job portraying Pierre’s attempt to stay strong in the face of this difficulty. Garcia balances both, the conflict that’s going on within Pierre and the comedy that the character provides, perfectly.
Lola, despite being the youngest of the trio, turns out to be the most mature. She acts like a mother figure to both of her older brothers. However, her circumstances change and she finds love. Zoher hires her as his divorce lawyer and she later falls in love with him. Throughout the film, Lola goes through a range of emotions because once their relationship got serious, she discovered that she is infertile. Sagnier made this character warm and motherly with her siblings and those around her. Lola’s struggle to cope was so clearly portrayed that it was impossible not to sympathize with her.
Having grown up with two male siblings of my own, I couldn’t help but compare the relationship I have with my brothers to the relationship the Esnard siblings share. The movie is so well done that it’s easy to forget it’s in a different language. This movie oozes tasteful, witty humor without sacrificing the touching and emotional moments that only siblings share.