Pierre Niney gave another brilliant performance in this biopic of French novelist and diplomat, Romain Gary, directed by Eric Barbier. The film is based on the Gary's novel of the same title, which was inspired by his own life. The story shows how his overbearing mother's love led to Gary's strength and destruction. The line between his mother's love and psychological and emotional abuse is a fine one.
To my French readers, watch this film if you haven't seen it. To the rest of you, I hope you will get the chance to see it. Of course, you can also pick up the book and read for yourself.
Gary, a Russian-Jew, grew up in Vilna, which is now the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, but was once a Polish-speaking part of the Russian empire. Gary's mother Nina, portrayed brilliantly by Charlotte Gainsbourg, determines her son's greatness and all that he will be from the time he is very young, and through their intense mother-son relationship driven by his love for his mother and her overbearing, psychological and emotional abuse, he makes all her dreams come true. They move to France so that he can become French and accomplish all these goals. Nina saw France as hope and all things great that would lead her son to a much better life than she had. Sure enough, he becomes a famous French novelist, a war hero, and the French Consul General in Los Angeles. He did everything his mother demanded of him.
This emotionally intense drama is also interlaced with just the right dosage of comedy, which is much appreciated and needed to absorb Nina's extreme behavior and thinking. At 130 minutes, the film runs long, but you certainly don't feel it. Thus, I give it two thumbs up and a eureka. Not to mention, if I see a film before I read the book, I am rarely encouraged to then go read the book, but this one will surely be added to my reading list. This story isn't just about one person's life, or his relationship with his crazy mother; but it's about emotional truths.
BIG LOVE & HUGS