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MONS 2023

Review: Big Kids


- For their second feature film Andréa Bescond and Eric Métayer organise an encounter without pretence but full of hope between different generations

Review: Big Kids
Vincent Macaigne and Aïssa Maïga (centre) in Big Kids

How do we face up to old age, death or dementia in today’s world? How do we treat the older members of our societies? Thrust centre stage in 2018 by way of their debut feature Little Tickles [+see also:
film review
film profile
, which was presented in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and nominated 5 times for the Césars (winning the Best Adaptation and Best Supporting Actress trophies), Andréa Bescond and Eric Métayer are returning with a second feature film tackling this burning social issue head-on.

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Screened in the opening slot of the 38th Love International Film Festival Mons, Big Kids focuses on daily life within a retirement home which is turned upside down, at noon every day, by the eruption of students from the neighbouring high school whose canteen is currently out of action. It’s one of those elderly care homes which has made headlines in France in recent months, where working conditions for staff and the attention paid to pensioners leaves a lot to be desired, and where all the goodwill in the world won’t help to overcome the shortcomings and malfunctions of the system. We keep frenetic pace with the carers, following them at running speed through corridors, from one bedroom to another. The film adopts a realistic, almost documentarian air, especially in terms of its pensioner cast. The portraits of the various staff members highlight the questions, doubts, hesitations and fights which arise every single day, in a context where understaffing and a lack of resources inevitably lead to both small and major catastrophes.

This meeting between two worlds set apart by different life stages is spearheaded by two strong characters, whose forced collaboration causes a bit of friction. Yannick, an over-worked carer who tries as best he can to keep the establishment ticking over, played by a moving yet feverish Vincent Macaigne, slowly comes to forge an alliance with Aude, a voluntary school worker vested with the communicative energy of Aïssa Maïga. Together, they try to turn this moment of forced cohabitation between different generations into a moment of communion, care and learning. The distress some of them feel is soothed by the love for life felt by others; the children’s hunger to learn is satisfied by the experience offered by their seniors. While the "elderly" regain some of their vitality and demonstrate great resilience, the children are confronted with mortality and also deploy their incredible capacity to adapt. It’s true that the interactions between the youngsters and the elderly folk are sometimes predictable, certain characters are slightly stereotypical, and the film’s denouement loses itself in poetic-come-dramatic digressions which ultimately weaken the subject-matter. But a genuine sense of affection nonetheless arises from this temporary coming together, which we might use as inspiration for rethinking our ways of living and our approach towards caring for those who need us the most, whatever their age.

Big Kids is produced by Les Films du Kiosque (France) in co-production with France 2 Cinéma, Fils Prod (France) and Umedia (Belgium). The film will be released on 26 April, distributed by Ad Vitam in France and by Cinéart in Belgium. International sales are entrusted to France TV Distribution.

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(Translated from French)

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