Starring: Julie Gayet, Thierry Neuvic, Julie Depardieu
Director: Gabriel Julien-Laferrière
Running Time: 99 mins
We Are Family (C’est quoi cette famille?!) is a French film about a group of seven children, each the offspring of one of a group of divorced parents, who decide to set up their own lives after getting fed up of being ferried back and forth between their various parents’ houses.
I had a lot of fun with this movie. Bright, energetic, inventive and often even genuinely heartwarming, it’s an undeniably enjoyable watch from start to finish. With great humour and an ensemble of entertaining performances, there’s so much to enjoy with We Are Family, even if it does occasionally get a little out of hand with its enormous cast of main characters.
First things first, let’s talk about the story. At first, it struggles to get off the ground due to the huge collection of characters and their varying relationships. A quick-fire introductory sequence does its best to present you all of the children, all of their parents, and how each is loosely related to the other in some way, but the fact remains that it’s all just a little too much to really wrap your head around, something that remains the case right to the end of the movie.
But ignoring that, the film manages to craft a genuinely heartfelt and thoroughly entertaining plot in the midst of all of that lineal chaos. After a rocky start, things really pick up when we see the first confrontation between the children and the adults, after the kids decide to move into their own house, and get their parents to accommodate themselves to their childrens’ lives for once.
From then on, the film hits a wonderful sweet spot, presenting all of the annoying and manic trappings of parenthood and growing up alongside a thoroughly pleasant and heartwarming portrayal of the strength of family relationships. As we see the chaos and division that once reigned in this hugely complex family tree dissipate, it’s replaced by an unexpected but genuine and heartfelt demonstration of how a family can get along even when everyone comes together.
Of course, the cynics watching will likely see the situation as beyond preposterous, and while that’s certainly the case, there’s an enjoyably tongue-in-cheek vibe to the whole affair. With the kids leading the way, the whole scenario regularly descends into disarray, but it’s played out with a great sense of humour that means you never have to take it all too seriously, rather take the story as a playful allegory for the extremes of family relationships.
And finally, a word on the performances. Big ensemble movies like this are almost always doomed to descend into chaos as actors clamour for the limelight, and while I can’t say that the character balance here is always the smoothest, all of the performances hit the right beats throughout.
With a little more focus on the likes of the young Teïlo Azaïs, as well as his on-screen parents Julie Gayet and Thierry Neuvic, there are of course individuals that stand out more here and there. However, with such a big cast throughout, it’s the consistency across the board that makes the film really tick, allowing you to fully buy into their role as one big family, helping the film’s story leaps and bounds.
Overall, I really enjoyed We Are Family. A pleasant, light-hearted and properly entertaining comedy throughout, the film matches the mania of the life of an extended family well with a heartfelt and genuine emotional core, and although it occasionally gets a little too big to keep track of, it remains a whole lot of fun to watch right the way through, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.