THE FILM: On My Way
THE CAST: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Garouste, Nemo Schiffman, Mylène Demongeot, Claude Gensac, Valérie Lagrange
THE DIRECTOR: Emmanuelle Bercot
THE DEETS: Think back to the 2010 story of self-discovery told in the film adaptation of Eat Pray Love. Now, condense it to span only a few days, set it against the backdrop of Bretagne, France, and have the legendary Deneuve come to terms with her life as Bettie: a former beauty queen, turned widow, turned mistress, turn single, financially-strapped woman, who still manages to find love in a hopeless place.
On My Way starts off a bit shaky. You’re not really drawn in to the happenings at Bettie’s quaint bistro, or the subsequent revelation that though her lover is finally getting divorced, it’s not to be with her. Even after Bettie embarks on a wild, impromptu ride—literally—and ends up in bed with a man young enough to be her son, you wonder if this portrait of a late-life crisis is salvageable. Then, we meet Charly.
Played by 13-year-old Schiffman, Charly is Bettie’s bratty, pre-teen grandson by her estranged daughter, Muriel (Camille Dalmais). Bettie is tasked with driving Charly to the “boonies” where his paternal grandfather (Garouste) is in the middle of a political election. Though Charly’s tempestuous tantrums make you question Muriel’s parenting skills, they also offer enough panache to liven up the film. Schiffman is the unsung hero of the project, portraying a child struggling to cope with his adult family’s drama (single mom, absent father, fickly maternal grandmother, stoic paternal grandfather), while managing to have more common sense than them all.
Not to be upstaged, Deneuve’s performance is what The Hollywood Reporter’s Jordan Mintzer deemed her most “unhinged” yet, making her “a character you want to root for, even if you don’t always know why.”
On My Way premiered in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, and made its U.S. debut at the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema on March 6th, hosted in conjunction with LACOSTE. It will be released in U.S. theaters on March 14th. No rating. 113 minutes.