“On My Way” A Charming French Film (Foreign Film Review)

ON MY WAY poster


A cute little French comedy starring Oscar nominee Catherine Deneuve has made its way to theaters.  It’s called On My Way and the quirky French film features an unexpected road trip with a captivating storyline.  Well acted and produced, the film is an endearing look at a smidgen of France’s rustic countryside and a woman trying to come to grips with a late in life crossroads. If you like your movies whimsical yet complex, then rush on over to see On My Way.

The film centers on Bette (Deneuve) a restaurant owner who has been on the edge over trying to quit smoking, a dip in customers and issues with Etienne, her lover.  On one particular day her mother informs her that Etienne has left his wife and run off with a young floozy.  Puzzled and perplexed she jumps into her car and starts to drive off into the countryside.  She gets to a small town where her only possible chance for a cigarette is at a local bar where following a wild night; she wakes up the next morning in bed with a strange man 20 years younger.

Bette (Catherine Deneuve) contemplates her next move

Bette (Catherine Deneuve) contemplates her next move

The film presses on with Bette getting a call from her estranged daughter to help her by taking her son Charly (Nemo Schiffman) to his parental grandfather’s house while she takes an internship. With the boy in tow and 200 miles of France to travel, the two opposites take on a road trip that will change the both of their lives forever.

First of all the film is gorgeous with awesome shots of the French countryside and small towns.  Director and screenwriter Emmanuelle Bercot (Backstage) keeps her camera wide taking in the charming villages, people and their layback lives.  She makes the story complex setting up a number of hurdles for Bette to get over, giving her some challenges that are a bit scary and putting her feelings to the test. She draws her audience in from the start keeping them compelled, finally allowing them to breathe for the twisty second act and finale that tugs at your heartstrings.

Bette and Nemo Schiffman as Charly in ON MY WAY

Bette and Nemo Schiffman as Charly in ON MY WAY

If there is a downside for some, it’s the character development of several roles and their back stories.  I would have liked to know more about Etienne, Bette’s late husband, why Bette’s estranged from her daughter Muriel and Charly’s paternal Grandfather.  My only guess is the length of the film may have been a challenge and the script would have probably been a little too dramatic and overpowering for the comedy.

Deneuve is magnificent as the golden age beauty who finds herself pulled in all directions.  It’s one of her finest personal performances as you can see she’s really having a masterful time with the conflicted character and enjoying the effort to bring her to the screen.  She was nominated Best Actress for the film Indochine by the U.S. Academy Awards and by BAFTRA for Belle de Jour.  Deneuve has also been honored in France with nominations for 12 Caesar Awards including wins for Indochine and Le dernier metro.

In his break out role as Charly, young Nemo Schiffman puts on a very good show as the mischievous 11-year-old who last saw his grandmother when he was a toddler.  At first fascinated and then impish Charly wants to show how wrong she has been to not take the time to show her love for him.  Not understanding the conflict between his mother and Bette, he’s impetuous trying to make her suffer at times as they travel across country to his grandfather’s chateau. Slowly showing Charly’s soft side, Nemo brings out the realization that even Bette has been hurt from being estranged from him and his mother.

On My Way has not been rated by the MPAA but contains some sexuality and language.  The film is presented in the French language with English Subtitles. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A charming film with comedy and a lot of heart. (B+)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Nemo Schiffman, Gérard Garouste
Directed and Written by: Emmanuelle Bercot
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Foreign
Language: French with English Subtitles
MPAA Rating: Unrated, Adult Situations
Running Time: 1 hr 56 min
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group

LAST DAY TODAY AT L.A. Landmark Theaters…Please check your local listings.

Opens in South Florida 3/21:  Living Room Theaters (Boca Raton), Regal Shadowood, Movies of Delray, and Movies of Lake Worth Opens 3/28:  Coral Gables Art Cinema in Miami.


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