Starring: Louane Emera, Karin Viard, François Damiens
Director: Eric Lartigau
Running Time: 106 mins
The Bélier Family (La famille Bélier) is a French film about a teenage girl living with deaf-mute parents on a small country farm who discovers she has a gift for singing.
An undeniably heartwarming coming-of-age story, The Bélier Family is insightful, well-meaning and emotionally tender all the way through. However, it never quite hits home with the dramatic punch it’s aiming for, coming up short with what it intends to be more impactful themes.
But let’s start on the bright side, because despite the film’s flaws, it’s difficult to look past how enjoyable, kind-hearted and likable The Bélier Family is. From its excellent blend of heartfelt drama and sweet, funny humour to a delightful cast, the movie will absolutely put a smile on your face righ the way through.
The real standout of the movie is the cast, with a gorgeous lead performance from Louane Emera making the film soar higher than you’d expect. She has the perfect mix of childlike innocence and battle-hardened, determined drive for a great coming-of-age tale, and it’s the way she employs those qualities in the context of this story that really makes her character so fascinating to follow throughout.
Alongside Emera are the delightful duo of Karin Viard and François Damiens, playing her deaf-mute parents. In that, as well as giving convincing and fair performances as people who can’t hear or speak, they manage to prove entirely endearing without even a single word of dialogue, giving wonderfully zany performances which are tinged with a real sense of care and heart towards their young daughter.
In that, there are smiles and laughs to be had wherever you look with The Bélier Family, and in tandem with its heartfelt emotional depth that delivers an undeniably heartwarming tale of finding your own place in the world while being loyal to family, the film is a genuinely wonderful watch.
However, as pleasant and inspiring as that tale is, this movie never quite hammers home the dramatic gravitas it’s clearly aiming for, and absolutely has the ingredients to pull off.
Because, while the laughs and light-hearted side of the story is a delight, the film is still trying to deliver a more powerful coming-of-age story that looks at the emotional intensity of growing up and going against your family.
Real dramatic gravitas in this genre has shown to work brilliantly in recent years, with the likes of The Edge Of Seventeen and Eighth Grade delivering incredible emotion. The Bélier Family, in tandem with its tender depth and musical prowess too, aims to join those ranks, but sadly misses the mark as it tries to give a punchy end to a captivating but far from intense story.
Overall, The Bélier Family is a genuinely delightful watch, with heartwarming and engaging drama that will easily put a smile on your face throughout. Couple that with a wonderful and energetic cast that spark a good few laughs too, and there’s a lot to enjoy about the film, even if it doesn’t quite deliver the intense dramatic power it’s always aiming for. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2.