Julie Delpy unveils childhood memories in Skylab
by Boyd van Hoeij
21/09/2011 - French actress-writer-director Julie Delpy, who received an Oscar nomination for her work on the screenplay of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, premiered her first entirely French-speaking feature, Skylab [trailer], as part of the San Sebastian Film Festival Official Selection.
The film, which is partially autobiographical, looks at a weekend activities in Brittany of an extended family who visit the family matriarch (Bernadette Lafont) for her birthday in the summer of 1979. This is the summer that a satellite called Skylab was expected to crash into the western tip of France.
The main protagonist of the film is a girl, Albertine (Lou Alvarez), who may be presumed to be a stand-in for Delpy (who was born in 1969), who has to navigate her extended, eccentric and particularly French family, the growing pains of quickly being catapulted towards adolescence and worrying about whether they’ll all be alive in a couple of days since a satellite is hurtling towards earth.
The extended clan includes her parents (played by Delpy and Eric Elmosnino), who are travelling entertainers and actors, and uncles and aunts including Denis Menochot, Valerie Bonneton, Noémie Lvovsky, Aure Atika, Sophie Quinton, March Ruchmann, Jean-Louis Coullo'ch, Candide Sanchez and the filmmaker’s real-life family member Albert Delpy.
Frequently stealing the show, however, are some of the kids, including young talent Vincent Lacoste, who first shot to fame in the French hit film The French Kissers.
Though frequently funny, as it throws gag after gag involving either sex or politics at the viewer, the narrative of the film is weakened by the fact it lacks an overarching theme or character, while visually, Skylab is similarly lacking.