Rebecca S. Here….
Today I watched the 2013 French film “Elle s’en va” or On my way, starring Catherine Deneuve (who has been a staple of French films since the 1960s) as a former beauty queen who’s life is falling apart. She is middle aged and living with her mother, runs a restaurant that she can no longer pay the bills to cover, and her lover has just left his wife… for a another woman.
Her life feels as if it is turning upside down when she gets a call from her estranged, ne’erdowell daughter (who I wanted to slap from her first frame to nearly the end of the movie so well done Camille) who is going to try and get a job and needs someone to drive her son to the boys grandfather’s house. The chemistry between Bettie (Deneuve) and her grandson Charly (Nemo Schiffman) is lovely and authentic. They play the hard times with beautiful sour notes that make you believe that they are truly angry with one another and the light moments with sure tenderness and care that you’re sure they are the best of friends.
There were places where the movie dragged- at the beginning of the road trip there is a full 3 minutes of just driving with no dialogue with a song playing in the background. It very much lent itself to the idea of “we paid for this song and dammit we’re going to use it!” Bettie spends almost 30 minutes of this movie driving around looking for a place to buy some cigarettes and they spend so long with this sequence that I became just as frustrated as Bettie. I don’t know if that’s perfect story telling by putting me in her shoes of just a sequence of unending pointless searching.
The movie has an ending you see coming a mile away but it is still sweet and genuine and makes your heart feel good especially after seeing so much hardship in this woman’s life. If you’re looking for a well done foreign film, get yourself some French food and a great bottle of wine and watch Bettie discover that “life goes on.”
4 out of 5 STARS
– Rebecca Steinberg