Une vie meilleure [A Better Life] (2011)

Une vie meilleure
Director: Cédric Kahn
Writer: Catherine Paillé, Cédric Kahn
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Leïla Bekhti, Slimane Khettabi
Part of: Festival du film francophone

Yann (Guillaume Canet) is a young cook searching for his career break when he meets the waitress Nadia (Leïla Bekhti). They like each other and soon the two of them and Nadia’s son Slimane (Slimane Khettabi) are growing into a family. By chance, they stumble on an abandoned building that would be perfect for a restaurant. They decide to buy it, even though they don’t really have any money. The debts keep amassing and Yann and Nadia get in deeper and deeper.

The film is intriguing, but completely depressing and the ending feels like one huge cop-out. But the worst thing of all: probably for the first time in his life, Guillaume Canet wasn’t sexy.

The cast was really good and all three of the main actors really carry their stories and their parts. Especially Guillaume Canet is wonderful. It’s too bad that his character is such an idiot.

I am aware that the film wants to tell the story of how easily you can hit rock bottom and how quickly you can end up completely in the crapper, despite your best intentions and despite working your butt off. How hard life can be. But at the same time, Yann makes so many stupid decisions that it’s hard to feel for him. the movie could have ended about 20 minutes in if he had just sold that freaking restaurant. And he would have even made money off of it.

And the plot keeps building up to despair, keeps piling on the crap – and then it gives you a halfway happy ending that is not happy at all. If you think about it even for two minutes, you know that that happy moment the film chose to end with? Really is just a moment and the shit will hit the fan again within 5 minutes of it.

Nevertheless up until the ending I was invested in the film and Kahn really manages to capture the situation’s sense of desperation and helplessness. It’s just that the ending left me so completely unsatisfied that it tainted the entire film.

Summarising: Oh well.


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