Bruno Podalydès’ Adieu Berthe is the featured film at the San Francisco Alliance Française movie night on Tuesday. Also known by its English title, Granny’s Funeral, the film was written by the director and his brother, Denis Podalydès – who also plays the male lead, Armand Lebrecq.
Armand, a middle-aged pharmacist, always wanted to be a magician, so he juggles what he feels is his rather unexciting job with his passion for magic – and his apparently unexciting marriage to Hélène (Isabelle Candelier) with time spent with his mistress, Alix ((Valerie Lemercier). He still loves Hélène, but wouldn’t mind leaving her for Alix either, so it’s no wonder – with all these conflicts in his life – that when his grandmother dies, he feels rather guilty about having neglected her.
A rather disorganized character, Armand nevertheless realizes that he has to take on the role of patriarch and arrange his grandmother’s funeral. In so doing, he comes up against his rather domineering mother-in-law Suzanne (Catherine Hiegel), who has markedly different views about which funeral home to use, so the battle lines are drawn – whilst Armand also has to deal with the two women who feature in his personal dilemma.
Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews describes Adieu Berthe as “a goofy comedy” and “a feel good movie about a funeral”, which, he says, sounds like a contradiction, but isn’t. It takes a satirical – and somewhat critical – view of the burial industry, as well. It won a nomination for the Podalydès brothers for Best Original Screenplay at the 2013 César Awards.
Adieu Berthe – in French with English subtitles – screens at the Alliance Française, 1345 Bush Street, on Tuesday, August 16, at 7.00 pm. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested.