The Day I Saw Your Heart

Hmm, another day, and another country. Ever been to Paris? You say you’d love to, but so far, you haven’t done it, is that right? Peur de ne pas. That’s French for ‘fear not’. We will get you there today.

TDISYH cover combo

Our film is called The Day I Saw Your Heart and stars Michel Blanc and Melanie Laurent who I loved in Inglorious Basterds and Beginners which was written and directed by Mike Mills.

This 2011 film’s French title is Et Soudain Tout le Monde me Manque, which translates into English as And Suddenly I Miss Everyone. Seemingly that has nothing to do with Today I Saw Your Heart. Now neither of those titles gives you any inkling about what the film is about. But I’ll help you out on that score too.

TDISYH is a comedy drama with Laurent as Justine Dhrey, a Radiology Technologist. She’s a nearly 30-year-old woman who is unable to finish anything she starts, or said another way, has a fear of commitment. Her father, Eli Dhrey, is 60 and has all the pointers or indications of being an immature adult, an asshole, and something of an insensitive lout. Think Seinfeld’s George Costanza character plus 30 years and you’ll have your man.

These two are not quite estranged. But apparently Justine has a long-simmering distrust/dislike of her father that goes back to when she was just three, and her father disappointed her. On top of that, Eli would soon leave home, when Justine was just a child, to try to become a globe-trotting jazz musician. After a lengthy tour of the world’s finest jazz hot spots,  he returned home and when his father was getting elderly and infirm, Eli took over the family business in the rag trade. Meaning he dealt in schmatas, or the kind of cheap clothing you wouldn’t be caught dead in. In this field, Eli was a success.

Suzanne is pregnant

Suzanne is pregnant

There’s a family gathering: Justine, her half-sister Dom and her husband Bertrand, Eli, and his 2nd wife, Suzanne. It is at this time that Eli announces that he and Suzanne are expecting a child. This doesn’t go over well at all.

Oh no! My Dad as a Dad....

Oh no! A kid with My Dad as its Dad….Madness!

Eli says, That went Ok...but Suzanne's face says otherwise

Eli says, That went Ok…but Suzanne’s face says otherwise

Justine has experienced first hand Eli’s failures as a parent. Dom and Bertrand have struggled mightily because they’ve been trying for two years to have a child, and Dom hasn’t conceived yet. So neither of the daughter/sisters are the least bit enthused with this news.

That sets the stage. But wait. There’s more. While Justine works taking MRI images, X-Rays, and other kinds of internal scans, she’s really an artist at heart.

Her dream is to work with imaging and make it an art form. She also has a lengthy list of ex-boy friends. This is not to say that she is or ever was promiscuous. Just consider, without judging, that in the past year, there were five guys who became exes.

Now here’s the thing. Eli is not as much of a douchebag as Justine thinks he is. He cares deeply for Justine, only he can’t manage to convey this to her, or anyone else. What Eli does is to maintain relationships with Justine’s former lovers. He plays golf with one, cards with others, and he’s even hired two of them and they currently work for him. Secretly of course, as Eli has forbidden Justine from visiting him at the office.

His thinking? Maybe he can find a way towards reconciling with Justine, by learning about her through the former boyfriends.

On that alone we can call this film a quirky comedy/drama. Director Jennifer Devoldere, along with her writing collaborator Romain Lévy, have used the time line of Suzanne’s pregnancy as both a framing device, as well as a way of transitioning time. The film has a quasi-episodic look and feel to it. Some times scenes appear and we question how did we get from where we were to where are. Not most of the time, but on occasion.

But that doesn’t mean that the film isn’t enjoyable. For sure there are numerable laugh-out-loud moments, and these are artfully blended with the serious topics at hand such as how long do we cling to items that make us bitter, and how long before we can make up, and feel good about some one again.

Early on in the film, we are in a comedy club. A comedian is doing his thing – not quite stand up, but more accurately described as sitting atop a high stool while riffing to the audience.

His topic: clinging to stuff that makes you angry:

Do you remember that girl who you were crazy about when you were 16? She drove you crazy. And now you’re 47 and to this day, you’re still calling her ‘THAT BITCH!’

Melanie Laurent is simply marvelous in the film as Justine. She looks sensational (those marvelous eyes) and she’s got a lot on her plate. Deep seated anger and resentment for Eli, a lengthy list of ex-lovers, an unfulfilled desire to get her art project (MRI’s and X-Rays as an art-form) up and running, and her basic inability to commit. But we don’t dislike her at all.

Nor are our feelings for this character heavily tilted towards sympathy. No – simply we love her at first sight. You can have your J-Lo, and your J-Law, and I love them too, but right now I am a huge fan of Law-Rah. I’d watch the film again, just for her.

Michel Blanc has an even more complex role. He’s a father, a husband, a business owner, and a jerk all at once. And yet, you have to admire Blanc’s work because he isn’t really so dislikable that his character is shoe-horned into a one-note niche and your feelings for him remain negative. Trust me, while he never appears to be anything but a daughter’s nightmare – he really isn’t.

The writing is funny and delivers some delightful moments. But on the dramatic side of things, I have to say that the results were less effective. We can see somethings coming before they happen, then when they happen, we not only get the visuals, but we also have musical clues, which sometimes fit and sometimes don’t.

I’m going to rate the film at four point zero. I think I am giving a higher score than some other folks. But this is a French film, and overall, it worked just fine for me. In truth, Paris is somewhat short changed visually, but you get humor, poignancy, and a story that involves you. Stay with me and you’ll also get more of Paris, and soon. You can watch this film via your Netflix streaming account. There is also a DVD available. Check out the trailer below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s