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.