“The Children of Others”: the frustration of being a mother by proxy


“The Children of Others”: the frustration of being a mother by proxy
Written by madishthestylebar


Rachel (Virginie Efira), 40, has no children, and, for the first time, the cinema takes the side of sobriety and interiority to represent those whom medicine calls “nulliparous”. He abandons the rehashed figures of the desperate sterile forties on the way to hormonal injections and the environmental activist who turns her back on childcare to reduce the carbon footprint.

Rebecca Zlotowski, whose most autobiographical film this is, offers a clever angle of attack that opens up new perspectives, other than the disarray and conviction of the childfree (“free of children”). We expected nothing less from a filmmaker, a graduate of Normale-Sup and La Fémis, who for ten years has been producing portraits of women in search of sophistication to escape the condition of elementary happiness. . In other people’s children, she falls in love with an ambivalent character, torn between the pride of belonging to the restricted world of women without descendants and the fear of missing out on an immense collective experience with which she is confronted on a daily basis.

Rachel is surrounded by children who are not hers: her French students, with whom the teacher is particularly involved, and, recently, Leila, 4 years old, the daughter of the man (Roschdy Zem) whom she met at her guitar lesson and for which she lovingly takes care of her perm. Every other week, cohabitation with the little one generates a host of questions: how does one become a mother-in-law when one has no children and, in this case, when one encounters difficulties in having any? How to raise another’s child by accepting his inability to have one? What place should be given to this relationship which depends entirely on the romance of adults?

In the rules of melodrama

We feel how much the director aspires to look more closely at the evolution of this nameless link that plays out between filiation, authority and friendship. In the style of the post-divorce classic Kramer versus Kramer (1979), by Robert Benton, which recounts the apprenticeship of a stay-at-home father with his little boy of whom he has custody, Other people’s children follows key scenes from everyday life, presented as steps to take to make frustration more acceptable.

“The Children of Others” manages to describe with acuity the double feeling of attraction and rejection between Rachel and Leila

It all starts on the living room shelf. Rachel discovers Leila’s face in a picture frame. A mixture of curiosity and tight heart. It’s dark, she says nothing and goes to take a look in the child’s unoccupied room, which seems to her like the lair of a little ghost. Then, the meeting: Rachel insists on offering Leila a bag of candy. Business of seduction. Despite the tenderness she has for him, the child will act as bargaining chip to obtain the father’s love.

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