Sisters Flee a Funeral in Poignant French Character Drama


DVD STREET DATE: MAY 21, 2024/DISTRIB FILM (via Icarus Films)

Maybe love should die with the person.”  But it doesn’t.  Grief, in untold perpetuity, finds ways of sneaking up.  At times it’s outright rude in its timing, unexpected, inopportune.  Other times, we sense it waiting just down the road or around the corner.  In those instances, we are able to pivot in the interest of socially accepted suppression.  For Lola (Alysson Paradis), a young mother who’s just lost her husband, there is another option: fleeing.

Amore mio is a small, intimate French drama that fully understands the crashing, piercing, torturous sudden nothingness of the death of a loved one.  Prolific actor 

Guillaume Gouix moves behind the camera to co-write and direct this, his first feature. Gouix imbues Amore mio with just enough breathing room as not to suffocate the viewer with his instinct for close-ups and handheld camerawork.  The result demonstrates the confidence of someone who’s definitely been paying close attention to what his various directors were up to on his many previous acting jobs.  Wisely, he cast two incredibly accomplished actresses (Paradis, and Élodie Bouchez) in the lead roles as oil-and-water sisters for this uncertain travelogue.  

Lola’s husband (Félix Maritaud) has abruptly died.  Unable to deal with the realities that his funeral would solidify, she opts to take their young son, Gaspard (sensitively played by Viggo Ferreira-Redier) and go away.  Despite the unhinged spontaneity of this decision, Lola manages to get her far more level-headed sister, Margaux (Bouchez), to go along with her.  The whole of the film is largely this road trip and the tensions it brings out among the living and the dead.  

More than a capable three-hander, Gouix exhibits a subtle love of cinema throughout.  At one point, as Lola’s deceased husband reappears to her in a dark moving car at night, he is bloodied, silent, but bemused by it all.  His presence- and hers- flickers in synchronized time, thanks to the intermittent lights going by out the windows.  Not arbitrary lights of different speeds and timing zipping past, per real life.  This is in intentional rhythm.  Like film going through a projector.  

Amore mio (that title, curiously, is an Italian phrase in a French picture, meaning “my love”) is tremendously sensitive, straightforward as the delicate three-handed that it is.  The third wheel between the sisters is Lola’s son, Gaspard.  Gaspard is an average kid who likes ninjas, dinosaurs, and video games.  But his grief is most palpable as it is also the most suppressed.  Perhaps some will feel that his several moments of secretly looking at photos and videos of his late father while claiming to be playing a video game is too maudlin and on-the-nose, but Gaspard is a victim in his mother’s dug-in erratic flight, forever deprived of the formal closure that a funeral provides.  

Behind its visually untethered moments there a deeply considered emotional bedrock and even vibrancy at the heart of Amore mio.  That vibrancy is among the reasons that it’s a bummer that the film isn’t available on Blu-ray.  At least, however, there is a physical option, even if it’s merely a standard definition DVD.  The DVD transfer does look incredibly good, all things considered.  Better to snap this disc up rather than overlook the excellent Amore mio for lack of an HD disc.

For those who appreciate small, character-driven road movies and/or movies that grapple with raw family dynamics, Amore mio is a sophisticated option.  One comes away with an empathy for all three characters, even as they sometimes prove frustrating.  Love never dies with the person.  Amore, as it’s postulated by the characters, is indeed sublime.