Film Review: The House by the Sea

It is said that blood is thicker than water and to a greater extent that appears to hold true for most people. That doesn’t mean we necessarily like our brothers and sisters, spend much time with them or have anything in common. One thing that does bring families together is the illness or death of a loved one. Differences are often put to one side for a common purpose. In Robert Guédiguian’s new film The House by the Sea three siblings come together to witness the last days of their father.

A family converges at a bay near Marseilles. It was the scene for their childhood but most of the locals have left and it has become a shadow of its former self. Angèle (Ariane Ascaride) is now an actress living in Paris. Joseph (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is an old agitator who has fallen in love with a woman half his age (Anaïs Demoustier). Meanwhile, (Armand) Gérard Meylan has remained in the town to run the small family restaurant. Embroiled in their own lives, the break affords them a chance to contemplate their own existence.

The House by the Sea is an immensely intelligent and absorbing drama about the ties which bind families together. Guédiguian once again teams up with regulars Ariane Ascaride and Jean-Pierre Darroussin; this familiarity encourages them both to shine. It’s a thoughtful treatise on the past, present and future. A boiling pot of ideas and philosophical musings. The House by the Sea is a film about living for the moment and making new communities wherever we find ourselves.

The House by the Sea is out in cinemas from 11 January.

Previous Film Review: Island of Hungry Ghosts
Next Incoming: The Front Runner

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