The Bélier Family (2014)
Can you imagine crying over a song you have never heard and never will hear? This film can take you to such a place. Its a wonderfully happy, sad, and funny story about the walls that separate sound from silence, parents from children, and the pain of growing up and leaving the family nest. The plotline is simple: three of a French family are deaf and 16 year-old Paula hears for them at home, at the markets, and in running their busy cheese-making farm. She would have made cheese all her life, except for the accidental discovery of her musical gift. More parent than child, Paula navigates adolescence with the sole responsibility as family bridge to the world of sound and, through her, we gain glimpses of what deafness means.
The cacophony of sign language, sub-titles, spoken English and French feel chaotic but the exuberant physical closeness with which this family communicates challenges what we call normal family life. When an outsider calls them handicapped you immediately see the problem lies not with the family, and at this level alone the film earns much praise. But it soars higher, above the rom-com ebbs and flows of young love dreaming into the future. As the bird is set free her music reaches even the deaf, and with an emotional force that left me feeling I have been somewhere very special.
Director: Eric Lartigau
Stars: Karin Viard, Francois Damiens, Eric Elmosnino