“The Life of My Mother”, with Agnès Jaoui and William Lebghil: filial love tested by depression

Pierre (William Lebghil) was instilled with a love of flowers by his mother. At 33, he is a young, passionate florist: he has his own shop, an employee, with whom he goes to Rungis (Val-de-Marne) at dawn to choose what to compose the most beautiful bouquets. The young man hopes to soon land a contract with a wedding planning company – the appointment is imminent.

However, this quiet life is brutally interrupted the day when Judith, his mother (Agnès Jaoui), arrives unexpectedly. Manic-depressive, Judith managed to escape from the clinic where she had been treated for two years, during which time the son had managed to build a semblance of normality. He then has to manage a time bomb: spinning along his manic phase, Judith dances on the edge of a precipice, and Pierre must manage everything.

Road movie

My Mother’s Life begins on a beautiful note: dawn in Rungis, flowers everywhere, Pierre’s shop – a beautiful and cinematic profession than that of a florist, which we rarely see in the cinema. A sort of cottony softness takes over this first film, which never pulls punches, slips into a principled modesty.

As soon as Judith appears, the feature film takes us into a road movie. And it is paradoxically at the moment when the duo escapes from all their obligations, where they go off on a tangent, that My Mother’s Life is most expected: the escape far from institutions, the music playing loudly in the passenger compartment , the night at the hotel, karaoke, dancing and alcohol. We are here in the little bittersweet music of naturalism, where the unbearable beings are also the most endearing, and where the camera moves like a fly, eyeing the direction of a Pialat or a Cassavetes. The film would have benefited from deviating from this program that we know inside out, should have given itself the opportunity to invent something else.

The fact remains that, in this foregone conclusion, the energy of the improbable duo ends up winning out: the beautiful indolence of William Lebghil, a sort of Snoopy who manages as best he can a mother who is overflowing everywhere; and Agnès Jaoui, at first a little cramped in this role of crazy and unmanageable mother, which she ends up stretching from the inside to add what she knows how to do best, a sort of troubled and kindergarten.


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