Review: ‘Papa’

A doctor and his seemingly well-adjusted young son take a trip together through the most beige portion of France in "Papa," a confoundingly bland and obvious tale of emotional healing told with a lightly melancholy touch. Their journey of several days by station wagon is parsed by teasing, complicitous humor and snippets of revelation pertaining to a family tragedy. But it's difficult to care whether anyone achieves catharsis because entire venture is so slight, although undeniably well-made. Released June 1 to mostly supportive reviews - lead thesp Alain Chabat commands industry-wide admiration in Gaul - 76-minute pic is still in theaters.

A doctor and his seemingly well-adjusted young son take a trip together through the most beige portion of France in “Papa,” a confoundingly bland and obvious tale of emotional healing told with a lightly melancholy touch. Their journey of several days by station wagon is parsed by teasing, complicitous humor and snippets of revelation pertaining to a family tragedy. But it’s difficult to care whether anyone achieves catharsis because entire venture is so slight, although undeniably well-made. Released June 1 to mostly supportive reviews – lead thesp Alain Chabat commands industry-wide admiration in Gaul – 76-minute pic is still in theaters.

Thumbnail-sketch two-hander takes place mostly in the car – which gets two flats. Paul (Chabat), the father, forgets the charger for his cell phone. He and Louis (Martin Combes), the son, stay in hotels. They have oblique father-son talks. They briefly visit friends, only to stalk off when their host suggests death may not be a conversation topic at dinner. Both dad and son swear at, and are short-tempered with, others but affectionate toward each other. Chabat convinces, despite a tepidly written role, and moppet Combes is very good.

Papa

France

Production

A Gaumont Columbia Tristar Films release of a Gaumont presentation of a Gaumont, Les Films de la Suane, France 2 Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus, TPS Star. Produced by Philippe Rousselet. Directed, written by Maurice Barthelemy.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Laurent Machuel; editor, Fabrice Rouaud; music, Philippe Morino; production designer, Franck Schwarz; costume designer, Anne Schotte. Reviewed at UGC Les Halles, Paris, June 27, 2005. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Alain Chabat, Martin Combes, Yael Abecassi, Judith Godreche, Anne Benoit, Michel Scourneau.
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