© Les films du Worso
It’s one of the perennial standbys of French cinema – stories about families airing their dirty laundry at dynastic get-togethers, often in idyllic country settings. In Happy Birthday, Cédric Kahn (Wild Life, Red Lights, Roberto Succo) offers his own spirited take on the premise. A sprawling clan is assembled to celebrate the birthday of matriarch Andréa (Catherine Deneuve). However, no one has reckoned with the shenanigans of wayward filmmaker son Romain (Vincent Macaigne), or with the sudden appearance of prodigal daughter Claire (Emmanuelle Bercot), trailing a cargo of psychological baggage that’s about to be messily unpacked. Comic, caustic and touching a deep dramatic nerve, this is a magnificently controlled, exuberantly acted character piece, with director Kahn also mightily impressive as long-suffering older son Vincent.
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