french films > The Man Who Wanted a Child

The Man Who Wanted a Child

The Man Who Wanted a Child

cast: Darry Cowl, Artus de Penguern, Esther Gorintin

year: 2006

colour: yes


director: Delphine Gleize

runtime: 87

Alfred lives with his mother in a small village, keeping chickens and selling eggs at the local market. He doesn't speak, except to his mother and to children. He has a girlfriend of sorts, although he shies away from any physical contact with her. But more than anything, Alfred wants a child. As natural fatherhood is out of the question he takes the next best option, and makes an application to adopt. With a very un-French lack of bureaucracy Alfred's adoptive son arrives, but turns out not to be the bouncing baby he was hoping for. More quietly oddball than Delphine Gleize's first feature Carnages (winner of the BFI's Sutherland Award in 2002), and filmed using a more muted palette, this is still a distinctly bizarre tale. The absurd comedy of the situation makes Alfred's efforts to be a good parent all the more touching, and our hearts go out to him as he struggles with learning how to give and receive love. Despite being almost wordless throughout, Darry Cowl succeeds in giving a wonderfully expressive performance as Alfred, but it is veteran actress Esther Gorintin who steals the show as his unconditionally loving mother.


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