On My Way (Elle s'en va) (NR)

Comedy 116 March 14, 2014
By Michael Atkinson
As far as menopausal-crisis road-trip semi-dramas go, this hormonal launch into the provinces has several advantages, including Emmanuelle Bercot's fluid nonstop traveling camera, which maintains an organic relationship with its characters and landscape that any American movie should envy. But primarily the film has Catherine Deneuve, who is her classically resonant self as a small-town ex-beauty queen and grandmother shattered again by romantic disappointment and who leaves her failing restaurant one day and falls off the grid. At first, she has only a surprisingly hard time locating cigarettes driving around in the Brittany hinterlands, but of course life won’t leave her alone -- specifically, her errant daughter (Camille, just Camille) calls and demands that she take charge of her embittered 10-year-old son (Nemo Schiffman). We've all developed defensive scars against old-people-and-little-kid narratives constructed like rope bridges leading from grumpiness to hope, but Bercot's film contains no such arc -- just some familial juice, plenty of bad decisions, and more than a little mortal worry. It manages to be a mildly merry film in any case, because its realism is patient and inclusive, from the country bar full of harmless lager-drunk yahoos to the extended scene with an ancient, swollen-fingered man trying to roll a smoke for Deneuve's nicotine-desperate heroine. (Moments like these feel improvised by locals.) In the end, we're not paid off with a moral but merely with time spent in the remarkably humble company of, as Film Comment put it on their cover last year, Her Majesty.
Emmanuelle Bercot Catherine Deneuve, Nemo Schiffman, Gérard Garouste, Claude Gensac, Camille, Dominique Rocheteau, Mylène Demongeot Emmanuelle Bercot Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missionnier Cohen Media Group