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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Private Property

    On surface appearances, the film ‘Private Property,’ by French director Joachim LaFosse, seems to be nothing more than the usual, humdrum tale of a family trying to piece together the shattered fragments of their previous life.

    A previous life where mom, dad, and their two sons (played by real life twins Jeremie and Yannick Renier) lived happily and content together in their sprawling house in the French countryside, before the crushing onset of a bitter divorce.

    Cut to the present moment, where mom Pascale (Isabella Huppert) now lives alone with her two ‘boys’ (for really, they look at the very least twenty-five years old) and still mothers them to the fullest extent — doing their laundry, making them dinner, transporting them to various locations in town — while the twins simply spend their days lounging around the living room, playing scintillating games of ping-pong and shooting rats in the pond out front.

    However, ‘Private Property’ is more than just the tale of a struggling mother and her immature sons. Rather, the film is perhaps most deserving of praise because of the complex layering and depth that becomes discernible as the film progresses.

    On one level, the film broaches the delicate and uncomfortable question as to exactly how much a mother should sacrifice for her children, and when she should cut the apron strings. When is it okay for a woman to assume an identity other than a mother and reclaim the life she put on hold after bearing children?

    On another level, the film shows the painful and bittersweet woes that Pascale’s two children must face as they become increasingly aware of their mother’s identity as a woman — her sexuality, that doesn’t involve their father, her aspirations, and her desire to have space from them.

    Isabelle Huppert infuses the character of Pascale with a sort of quiet determination and resolve to start afresh and live out her dreams- dreams that were previously unattainable to her.

    When the audience is first introduced to Pascale, a pale, weary and frail wisp of a woman, we wonder why she can’t stand up to her sons — especially the fiery and hot-tempered Theirry — and why she so patiently weathers through the brunt of their anger.

    The audience can almost feel the desperation and longing and hesitation that Pascale feels as she fantasizes about opening a bed and breakfast with her new lover, and at the same time the guilt and doubt that flood her whenever she tries to sever the ties between her and her children.

    Joachim LaFosse makes his audience excruciatingly aware of the darker and more intricate facets that make up the experience of motherhood. Being a mother is not exclusively a one-dimensional, wondrous journey, but rather ‘Private Property’ exposes the underbelly of what it means to be a mother: the life-long sacrifices, the hard work and the suffocation and smothering of a child’s love when they hold on for too long.

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