Film Review: La Mif

the teenage residents

There are almost 2,500 children’s homes in the UK and that figure is on the rise. These institutions play a vital role in bringing up young people when there is no suitable parent or guardian around to take on the responsibility. However, they are critically underfunded, understaffed and riddled with a myriad of issues. Many are caused by the vulnerable nature of the adolescents, but there are also numerous external factors. La Mif follows one residential ‘family’ in Geneva.

Life in the home has its ups and downs but when a seventeen-year-old is caught having sex with a minor it provides the catalyst for a chain of spiralling events. At the heart is Lora (Claudia Grob), the Director of the institution. She’s battling her own demons whilst trying to supervise her disparate staff and also manage the girls as they act out and over-react to every situation. Damaged after being hurt by those they trusted the most.

The unusual way in which La Mif was filmed affords it a real sense of authenticity. This is achieved by using a cast of non-professional residents and workers at an institution. The script, created by former social worker writer/director Fred Baillif, was formulated over a two years period and uses improvised dialogue. However, what makes La Mif so vibrant and kinetic also work against it. While the storytelling is absorbing and moving it feels more like a collection of vignettes than a cohesive narrative.  

La Mif is out in UK cinemas on 25 February.

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