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Other People’s Children – Glasgow Film Festival 2023 (Film Review)

2 min read

Other People's Children was charming from the moment the leads, Rachel () and Ali (Roschdy Zem) awkwardly almost held hands, and from that second scene on their performances continued to wow. Rachel, a French teacher, starts a passionate relationship with Ali, a car designer and most importantly, a father to 4-year-old Leila (Callie Ferreira-Goncalves). Not a rom-com, not quite a drama, and certainly not your usual movie about motherhood, Rebecca Zlotowskis latest feature is not one to miss.

Other People's Children is one of the most heartwarming yet heart-wrenching movies of recent years. The directing and cinematography are stunning, notably stylised and, well, French, but never distractingly so, and it is made easy for the audience to get caught up in the emotion and excitement of Rachel and Alis relationship. Each happy moment, particularly the lovely times shared between Rachel and Leila, is tinged with worry, as Ali's ex is always on the scene, and the closer Rachel gets to both Leila and Ali the more we know she has to lose, especially since she has been told she may never get pregnant. It is inevitably difficult for Rachel to become a part of a family like this knowing she could lose it all in a way Ali and his ex cannot as they are both Leila's parents.

Some moments made little sense, for example, Rachel's ex appearing in the beginning and then never again, or her gynaecologist, played by Frederick Wiseman, being quite eccentric. Other moments could be seen as mundane, a significant part of the run time seems to be Rachel walking about or staring into space, but Virginie's performance was breathtaking even in these moments. If you last saw her in Benedetta be prepared to see an entirely different person on screen. The movie is extremely character driven, and every glass of wine or vacant stare somehow tells so much about who Rachel is, and it is hard not to fall for her as Ali does.

While not a happy rom-com, the romance is palpable, and the plot is hopeful if not up lifting. The tone is certainly similar to The Worst Person in the World, exploring flawed characters in difficult relationships, but the exploration of an atypical family unit and Rachel's experience on the fringe of motherhood and the communities around her sets Other People's Children apart from just about everything else.

Other People's Children screened at Glasgow Film Festival