La Faute à Fidel!
La Faute à Fidel!
Directed: Julie Gavras
Country: Italy, France
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama, Historical
Hello, my name is Anna and I am nine years old. I wish you had known me before - I mean before my aunt Marga and my cousin Pilar came to my parents' house -, I was such a happy little girl. Before their coming life was a bed of roses. Of course my little brother could be a pain in the neck - little brothers always are, aren't they? - but there was that wonderful big house, there was my Cuban-born nanny who cooked so well, there was the bath before dinner, not to mention this wonderful catechism class at the catholic school. But they did come, those Spanish intruders. And now never heard before names like "Franco", "Allende", "Women's Lib", "abortion", the lot, have got into my life. Daddy and Mummy have suddenly become "communists", although this a term that Bon Papa and Bonne Maman (my grandparents from Bordeaux, in fact) just hate. Because of the intruders not only did we move to a tiny apartment but the place is invaded day and night by "barbudos" (bearded men). No more bath before dinner and no more catechism class. How long will I be able to tolerate such a scandal?
Movie Reviewsthis is no ordinary coming-of-age film. this is the transition story of nine-year-old Anna de la mesa (played by Nina kervel-bey) who's life changes forever when her parents begin an ideological sea-change. her Spanish-born lawyer father Fernando (stefano accorsi) is inspired by his family's opposition to Franco (you later learn he is from a rich catholic royalist family and that his uncle is fighting in Spain) and allende's victory in Chile, to quit his job and become a liaison in France for Chilean activists. her mother, a Marie Clare journalist turned writer documenting the stories of women's abortion ordeals, supports her husband and climbs aboard the ideological bandwagon. as a result Anna's french bourgeois life is over. she must adjust to refugee nannies, international cuisine and a cramped apartment fully of noisy revolutionaries.
the film is filled with a dizzying array of philosophy and ideology - everything from communism, to Catholicism to Greek and Asian mythology - which Anna must reconstruct from confusion to her own set of beliefs. as she negotiates her way through this ideological maze until ultimate internalization of her parents' admirable (all be it ad hocly administered) objectives we are exposed to a witty analysis of stereotyping, misinformation, the potential hypocrisies of ideologies and the potential false-hopes of idealism.
for example Anna's mother makes a comment that she can get the kind of issues-political writing she is turning her repertoire to published in Marie Clare, but later throws out a copy of the magazine when her article isn't published, proving that just because you want to save the world doesn't mean Marie Clare does.
an example of stereotyping and misinformation around beliefs is the number of reds under the beds comments and Anna's grandmother's comment that the commies want to take all of Anna's toys. she also says that all radicals have beards, which, when repeated later by Anna, is met with an inquiry as to whether Santa clause is a radical by her kid-brother Francois (played by Benjamin feuillet).
another witty example at one point her parents take her to a rally to demonstrate solidarity, but later in the film, when 'exercising solidarity' with her classmates who all believe Rome to have existed before Greece despite her knowing better, she learns that solidarity and being a sheep are two different things. but when her dad tells her that is being a sheep, she asks how he knows that what he is doing is solidarity, not just being a sheep.
i really like the film's human side. the film is constantly filled with usual family goings-on – mother-daughter tiffs, routines, sharing meals – which illustrates that these militants are real people, with families and commitments. Francois is as real a little boy – will all the bounce and energy and impulsiveness – as any other which makes his character totally believable.
the first-time director Julie gavras is the daughter of militant filmmaker Costa gavras, peppering the film with a sense of lived history. added to how delightfully self-aware the film is, la faute à Fidel is a smart film that takes on the role of exposing the ways in which children may be victimized by the ideas of their parents, even when those ideas are well- meaning and progressive.