Les Petites Vacances - Stolen Holidays (2006)
Directed by Olivier Peyon
Starring Bernadette Lafont
Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown?
The nature of anyones state of mind is ambiguous and fragile at the best of times but little dents and chinks can push that fragility to the point of no return.
Danile (Bernadette Lafont), a retired teacher regularly ferries her grandchildren between her divorced daughters and their father's for the holidays. Minor comments made by the grand daughter on the journey plus the fact that their father isnt there to pick them up from the train station prompt Danile into taking the children for a small holiday.
The problems start though when she refuses to inform either parent of their whereabouts, she also misinforms the children, keeping them in the belief that their parents know exactly what they're up to. The younger child, Thomas is quite happy to go along with the holiday but his older sister, Marine has countless confrontations with Danile. A petulant girl of around 13/14 years of age, she sees herself as responsible and mature, Marine cant understand her grandmothers actions and certainly doesnt like being told what to do.
There is a turnaround in Marine's attitude after she eavesdrop's on her grandmother, this causes her have a change of heart and to become a co-conspirator even though she has no idea, like the audience or Danile herself, where this will lead.
The strength of this story rests on its vagueness and squarely on the performance of Bernadette Lafont. She proves sublimely capable playing a woman who is balancing on the precipice. The film leaves the viewer in a constant state of unease because you cannot tell what will happen next or where the plot is heading. At times, Danile's behaviour seems completely rational, she certainly cares about her wards, more so than either of the parents appear to, but there are times, hinted at right at the start of the film where her mind appears to take a slightly sinister turn.
I enjoyed Les Petites Vacances a lot, despite a couple of glaring plotholes. Bernadette Lafonts realisation of a woman on the edge was excellent. The fact that you cannot second guess the plot plus the vagueness of Daniles actions and indeed, the oblique nature of the end of the film all help to make this one worth looking out for.
BBFC rated PG