ADN [DNA] (2020)

Director: Maïwenn
Writer: Mathieu Demy, Maïwenn
Cast: Maïwenn, Louis Garrel, Fanny Ardant, Marine Vacth, Dylan Robert, Caroline Chaniolleau, Alain Françon, Florent Lacger, Henri-Noël Tabary, Omar Marwan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2020

Neige (Maïwenn) has a large, loud family who only rarely see each other altogether. But her grandfather’s (Omar Marwan) birthday is one such occasion where they only barely keep a lid on the various conflicts in the family. A short while later, the grandfather dies and with him goes the last tangible connection the family has to Algeria. This prompts Neige to explore her roots, even as the family conflicts keep brewing.

ADN is a well-acted film that nails the family dynamic and managed to make me both laugh and cry. But at the same time, there were some things that I found a little strange.

The film poster shwowing Neige (Maïwenn) in a crowd of people, she is the only one in focus.

ADN tackles an interesting topic that everyone can probably relate to, but I will hazard the guess that children of migrant families will enjoy it in particular. Search for identity might be a universal theme, but in the way it is done here, it is specifically tailored for that demographic, and I really enjoyed (despite the fact that I don’t really have much of migration in my family).

What worked even more for me, though, was simply watching Neige’s family and the way they fight with each other. They really caught the way, roles in families tend to be rather fixed and can be applied in pretty much any situation. It just really felt like family to me (although again, my family is very different from this one here).

Neige (Maïwenn) and her sister Lilah (Marine Vacth) hugging each other.

Especially because family is so important here, I was a little weirded out by how the film treats Neige’s kids: she has three children in the beginning of the film. At the funeral, the third kid is nowhere to be seen. And after that, when the film turns to her search for her place in the world, her kids are not even mentioned once anymore (their father never makes an appearance at all). I mean, Neige makes big, life-altering decisions here. Her kids not factoring into things at all is extremely strange for me. (If I want to be generous, I can interpret that as an attempt at drawing a parallel: much like Neige not growing up with a safe place, neither do their kids get a home from her. But even that generous interpretation doesn’t make much sense, and I doubt anyway that this was the intent – it feels more like the film forgot Neige’s children as they didn’t fit the film anymore.)

Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed ADN, also due to Garrel’s François who is outrageously funny (I don’t think I ever saw Garrel in a comedic role, but I’m here for it, and also turned on). But mostly because ADN is an emotional film that feels very personal.

Neige (Maïwenn) laughing with her best friend François (Louis Garrel).

Summarizing: Very nice.

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