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‘Other People’s Children’ Review: Virginie Efira in a Mature, and Delightfully French Drama

A coming-of-age character study about a woman already of a certain age, Rebecca Zlotowski’s “Other People’s Children” feels, to put it bluntly, delightfully French. And that goes beyond the outer trappings, the Paris setting, the opening shot of the Eiffel Tower glittering in the night sky, or the countless dimly lit, book-lined apartments where the film’s characters enjoy wine and cigarettes, toasting to the pleasures of sophisticated adulthood.

Let those elements aside and consider this story of sentimental education in function and form: For one thing, this mainstream, mature drama, led by two sexy-if-not-sculpted stars comfortably north of 40, certainly feels a product of the Gallic industry.

For another, consider this particular drama’s focus on complex emotional scales — finding story beats given Hollywood polish in “Jerry Maguire” and “Stepmom” and exploring them with a focus on the characters’ inner lives — flowing naturally from the French literary tradition. “Other People’s Children” leaves no doubt about its parentage.

Holding the screen for all 104 minutes, and using each one to display her apparently limitless range, Virginie Efira stars as Rachel, a 40-something high school teacher with a bit of a crush.

She’s professionally accomplished and good at her job, only she’s a woman distracted, moving through class and faculty meetings and social obligations with a glint in her eye and a man on her mind.

Swapping the physical bombast of “Benedetta” for a more interior poise, Efira imparts her character’s early anticipation — and eventual yearning, bliss, and hurt — using nothing but a glance. Rachel is a woman of the world with a universe inside.

Recent divorcé Ali (Roschdy Zem, of “Oh Mercy!”) is the man on her mind, and soon enough, the man in her bed. His bed, too — and as this new love takes flight, the pair will have each other’s bodies and apartments to explore.

Zlotowski thrills in little details, from the pictures on Ali’s walls revealing just how recently his marriage imploded, to the parting glance Rachel allows herself while Ali showers one morning. In one of the few times the camera keeps the actress off-screen it does so to assume her point-of-view, gazing at her new paramour sudsy and in the buff — a bit of equal opportunity objectification that seals this intimate bond.

Of course, theirs is something of a shared love, because with Ali comes his four-year-old daughter, Leila (Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, playing cute and a bit annoying at times, making for a very credible Kid Onscreen).

To the film’s immense credit, it does little to make the trio unique. As Rachel and Ali try to introduce their new relationship to the young girl who will always claim the lion’s share of Ali’s heart, they act with eagerness and reticence, seemingly as much out of self-protection as anything else. Because kids can be wonders and kids can be cruel, casually and without meaning to, but cutting all the same.

Ali is committed to his daughter, Rachel’s committed to this new unit she’s become a part of, and Zlotowski is committed to a truth common to so many composed families. Without ever raising the stakes higher than necessary, the filmmaker finds glory and bloodshed in the simple ways that barriers fall, that people connect, and that a single, stray remark — offered as a compliment no less — can cut straight to the core. All fit with the film’s larger mission, to bring us into Rachel’s thoughts and into her life, and to experience both in the moment to moment.

What may shape those thoughts? Well, there’s that ticking biological clock (the news delivered by a gynecologist played by Frederick Wiseman in a French-speaking cameo), her own apprehensions about maternity fueled by a family tragedy, and no doubt a desire to build a lasting future with Ali and Leila — to not, as she says at one point — feel like an extra in her own life.

Rachel has an open and hungry heart, and as her love for Ali extends towards (and is reciprocated by) Leila as well, she does recognize the dangers in extending that maternal instinct to, well, see the film’s title.

Mind you, that title does double duty when you factor in the character’s line of work. If you couldn’t quite call it a side plot — does life have side plots? — a parallel and complementary narrative strand follows the high school teacher as she helps an at-risk student, Dylan (Victor Lefebvre).

That Rachel helps the teen find professional apprenticeships (and in doing so, enter the adult world) is something of a cute play-on-words, as the French term for Coming-of-Age film is literally film d’apprentissage. Only this is very a coming-of-age text, following both student and teacher as they grow, awkwardly at times, into new forms of adulthood.

Grade: B+

“Other People’s Children” premiered at the Venice Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Virginie Efira

When it comes to acting, Virginie Efira is truly a force to be reckoned with. Her professional career began in the late 90s, and since then she has built an outstanding resume. Her work has led to her becoming well-known all over the world and her versatility has allowed her to work across multiple genres.

No matter what kind of project Virginie is working on, you can bet that she’s going to give an outstanding performance. Some of her most well-known roles include Justine in In Bed with Victoria and Rachel in An Impossible Love. On top of the great work she’s already done, Virginia also has some projects in the pipeline. Keep reading to find out 10 things you didn’t know about Virginie Efira.

1. She Is A Formally Trained Actress

We weren’t able to find any information on what drew Virginie to acting, but we do know that she has put in a lot of work to hone her skills. Virginie studied acting at Institut national supérieur des arts du spectacle et des techniques de diffusion (INSAS). She also studied at the Belgian Royal Conservatoire.

2. She Isn’t The Only Creative Person In Her Family

Although Virginie doesn’t come from a family with a history in the entertainment industry, she isn’t the only person in her family who has pursued a career in the arts. She has a brother who is a painter. She has two other brothers, one is a rugby player and the other is a builder.

3. She Is A Wife And Mother

Not only has Virginia achieved a lot of great things in her career, but she has also found enjoyment in her personal life. She was married to Patrick Ridremont from 2002 to 2009. Although their marriage didn’t work out, the two have remained friends. Virginie also has a child from her relationship with Mabrouk El Mechri. She is currently in a relationship with Niels Schneider.

4. She Is An Award Winner

Most actors would agree that they don’t do what they do for recognition, but at the end of the day, recognition is often how their careers are measured. So far, Virginie has been nominated for more than a dozen awards and she’s gone home with two. In 2017, she won a Magritte Award for Best Actress. There’s a good chance Virginie will win more awards in the future.

5. She Has Behind The Scenes Experience

Virginie’s acting is what she has become best known for, but that isn’t the only thing she’s contributed to the entertainment industry. Virginie has also done a couple of things behind the scenes. She made her debut as a writer in 2018 with a movie called It Boy and she made her debut as a producer in 2018 with a movie called Keep Going.

6. She Likes To Play Poker

The term ‘poker face’ isn’t just an expression when it comes to Virginie. She is a very talented poker player who has been playing for many years. During an interview with 20 Minutes, Virginie said, “Poker is a game which rewards you for your efforts and your work, but which does not give you a present and sacrifices you from behind.”

7. She Is A Fairly Private Person

Despite spending so many years in the entertainment industry, Virginie has never been the type of actress to share all of her personal business with the world. Instead, she has remained very private. She also doesn’t appear to have any verified social media accounts.

8. She Likes To Box

Don’t let Virginie’s pretty face and small frame fool you into thinking that she isn’t tough. Virginie can throw a punch with the best of them. She loves to stay active and boxing is one of her favorite forms of exercise. That being said, it doesn’t appear that Virginie has ever boxed competitively.

9. She Doesn’t Like To Improvise

There are lots of actors out there who love to incorporate improv into their scripted work, but Virginie simply isn’t one of them. While talking to Female.com, Virginie said, “I don’t much believe in improvisation. Actors can end up listening to themselves speak, and I don’t like actors taking over on set.”

10. She Has Done Voice Work

Virginie’s live-action work is what she has become famous for, but many of her fans may not know that she’s also done a good amount of voice work over the years. Primarily with dubbing existing projects in French. Some of her most noteworthy voice credits include Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Puss in Boots, andHotel Transylvania 1 and 2.







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