Esther’s father married and divorced 5 times. Why? And how might that influence my life, the director wants to find out and makes a film that ends with footage from her own marriage, where she is walking the aisle with her grandfather – the father would not come to Toulouse for the wedding. To be said, Esther is French/American.
The father is the main protagonist, who does not want to be in the film. Well, he is in the many archive clips that his daughter uses for the film and we see him being married for the sixth time and on several other occasions. But he is never in a conversation with the daughter behind the camera. So the answer to the Why, we don’t get from him.
It does not matter, ”Out of Love” is a thrilling personal film based on family archive material, luckily full of humour and life. Thanks to the mother Hélène and to the second wife Cathy, who had a child with the father and at times took care of his two girls, Esther and Sarah. Their presence gives the film a light tone. They were both very much in love with the charming American, ”love is never lost” as the mother says as she is taken to the church, where they married and talks with her daughter, the one behind the camera, who asks all the questions… that’s what documentarians are supposed to do! The same with Cathy, no regrets, beautiful memories, she never remarried (Esther’s mother did, she has been married to Mathieu for 20 years). Cathy’s home videos are as all personal archive material gently integrated in the narrative.
Back to the men. The most impressive and emotional moment in the film is the conversation Esther has with her grandfather. He and grandmother, who suffers from alzheimers, have been married for 50 years – what is the secret Esther asks? He talks so well, the grandfather, about respect and sensuality. And in the next scene you see him carressing his ill wife.
The father… at the Q&A after the screening at Palm Springs a man expressed that he ”was sort of mad at him”, and indeed why-the-hell could he not come to his daughter’s wedding. On the other hand his daughter, the director, makes a fine, respectful effort to let him remain the male, who never grew up and is not able to show emotions. Therefore it is well placed that we see him shoveling snow at his house at the same time as the wedding happens. No, not mad but sad!
It is not easy to make a personal film – when does the private become interesting and thought-provoking for the rest of us? It needs cinematic skills and a good story and strong characters. This film covers all three elements.
Watched at American Documentary Film Festival, March 2015.