french films > Modern Life

Modern Life

Modern Life

Modern Life


year: 2008

colour: yes


director: Raymond Depardon

runtime: 88

One of the finest films in Cannes this year came from photographer and film-maker Raymond Depardon, he of the unparalleled reputation as chronicler of French rural life. In Modern Life, he returns to the Haut-Garonne region and to the subjects of his earlier Profils Paysans films: l’approche and le quotidien. The octogenarian Privat brothers are struggling with age and declining health, and with the arrival of an outsider into the family fold; another elderly couple sees their dairy herd dwindle to just one cow; a middle aged man resents his responsibility for the family farm; and an enthusiastic young woman finds herself faced with insurmountable obstacles in her ambition to be a smallholder. Depardon approaches all of them with empathy, and the relationships he has forged over many years are clearly invaluable and integral to the film. For the most part, these are not people who find it easy to talk about themselves. Even the film-maker’s familiarity and understanding cannot completely remove their discomfort, and the tacit recognition of this speaks volumes. If Depardon’s portraits of the paysans are affectionate and astute, so too is his approach to the landscape, filmed in wide shots to capture its remote beauty. Day turns to night, people grow old, the world changes around them: ineffable facts, but presented here in uniquely moving style.


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