The Last Days Of Chez Nous (1992)

GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

, 1992, , , Screenplay by .   Cinematography by Produced by Music by .   Production Design by Costume Design by Janet Patterson.   Film Editing by .

Free-spirited and exuberant comes home to Australia after pursuing a love affair in Italy that didn’t pan out, moving back in with older sister .  Harrow lives with her teenaged daughter () and French husband (), who seems to be something of a marriage of convenience as a way for him to stay in the country.  Despite this set up, the couple have enough of an emotional tie to frequently fight, as Harrow’s desire to make everything and everyone around her better sees her exerting a pushy kind of control that has devastating results:  the road trip she insists on taking with her dad () to improve their relationship is disappointing, her trying to inspire Fox to pursue career prospects ends up going in an unexpected direction.  It takes a serious betrayal for the older sister to find a deeper understanding of her own wasted anxiety, and navigating these ups and downs is something that Harrow’s performance does beautifully.  Gillian Armstrong’s quirky ensemble piece makes the most of a script that is at times original and at times obscure, there’s always a sense that the individual characters are more interesting than what they’ve been given to do together, but the pedigree of the cast and the appealing, colourful cinematography make it a very easy watch even when some of its more extreme moments make you uncomfortable.

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