Born In '68 (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/09/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 173 mins

Watchable, well acted French drama that attempts to recreate the success of Italy's The Best of Youth, though it doesn't quite achieve the emotional depth it's aiming for.

What's it all about?
Originally filmed as two two-hour TV movies, Born in '68 is directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau and stars Laetitia Casta as Catherine, who is living the free-love dream in 1960s Paris with her boyfriend Yves (Yannick Renier) and, on alternate nights, her friend and lover, Herve (Yann Tregouet). After the 1968 student demonstrations, Catherine discovers she's pregnant with Yves' child and the three friends move to rural France, where they set up a commune in a country farmhouse, along with several other like-minded hippie types.

Eventually, simmering tensions cause the commune to break up, leaving only Catherine and her two children, Ludmilla and Boris, in the farmhouse. As the years pass, Ludmilla (Sabrina Seyvecou) and Boris (Theo Frilet) leave home and face their own problems, while Catherine finds new love with kindly geologist Antoine (Alain Fromager).

The Good
Casta anchors the film with a likeable performance as Catherine and there's strong support from Renier and Tregouet, as well as Marc and Christine Citti as a pair of kindly local farmers who befriend the trio.

The first half of the film is extremely well written; the relationship between the three friends is genuinely intriguing (there's more than a hint of Jules et Jim – the fact that Catherine shares her name with Jeanne Moreau's character is surely no coincidence) and it's fascinating to watch the cracks appear in the commune set-up as everyone gets older.

The Bad
That said, the film is less successful in the second half, largely because the shift to Boris and Ludmilla as young adults is too abrupt, meaning that we never really care about them the way we do about Catherine. Arguably, the film also loses focus by trying to cover too much ground, so the effect is a bit like fast-forwarding through the highlights (and lowlights) of recent French political history, though it does make some valid observations along the way.

Worth seeing?
Born in ‘68 is a watchable, well acted French drama, though the weaker second half never quite manages to deliver the requisite emotional punch. If you've never seen The Best of Youth, then seek that out first, though this is still worth seeing.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 18:35

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