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The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life – Preview Screening Movie Review

BY Boon Koh
Published 11 November 2009

I’ve now been for two free movie preview screenings in the past two weeks, which is two more than I gone for in the previous 6 months! While I did not particularly enjoy the Paranormal Activity movie that I went for earlier, tonight I went for a preview screening of The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life film, and I came out feeling that it was one of the best films I have watched in 2009.

The movie is originally in French (original name: Le Premier Jour du Reste de ta Vie), and for my showing they had kept the original French language and just subtitled the move in English. I find that subtitles are a lot better than dubbing, as you get the full beauty of the original language and the emotions. However, make sure you choose a seat far enough back, as I only managed to get a seat in the second row and the screen was so big and wide that I had to constantly keep looking at the bottom of the screen for the subtitles and back again to the middle!

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life - English movie poster

The movie is at its core an exploration and detailed look at a typical French family drama, played out over many years in five snapshot clips, from when the 3 children in the family were kids up until they become adults. Each character is developed from start to end, so much so that by the end I actually felt as though I was a part of the family and knew their lives inside out. Of course, each character in the family had a personality flaw, which flares its ugly head at some point through the movie and makes each character relatable to the audience. We see how one by one, each family member becomes a saint, and then the next moment is the villain of the family, and then redeems themselves. We see how there is a strong family bond at the beginning, how the bonds are stressed and fractured through the turbulent teenage years of each child, and then strengthened again right at the very end.

The movie offers a fresh new breath of independent cinema, and the  looking glass into french culture is a wonderful difference from the American culture that we see almost all the time in the Hollywood dominated box office. This film won many plaudits and rave reviews when it came out in its native France last year, and I’m surprised it has not made the jump to the English UK market much sooner. The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life is a quality movie that I would have been happy to pay a full price ticket for if I had had not the opportunity to go for a free screening, courtesy of SeeFilmFirst at the Apollo Cinema in Piccadilly Circus. SeeFilmFirst do regular exclusive special preview screenings of films for free, and while anyone can get tickets with a special invitation code, they are normally “sold out” very quickly. These screenings are not red carpet, celebrity studded events at Leicester Square, but they are free after all and you get to see the film before anyone else does.

The trailer for The First Day of the Rest of Your Life is available here (unfortunately only in French).

Film Synopsis/Summary: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, a sprawling, heart-on-sleeve soap opera about the emotional machinations of an average, middle-class family. Written and directed by Rémi Bezançon, it opens with eldest son Albert (Pio Marmai) leaving home and mother Marie-Jeanne (Zabou Breitman) and father Robert (Jacques Gamblin) distraught at the prospect of one of their brood making his way in the big bad world. Still, they’ve got their work cut out with their remaining two kids, air-guitar champion and überslacker Raphaël (Marc-André Grondin) and grunge-obsessed mope Fleur (Déborah François). Following the children through adolescence and beyond, it’s a film that studies the special bonds between individual family members with a tender, occasionally wry eye. Coming soon to Vue, Cineworld, and Odeon cinemas London-wide and nationwide.

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    The movie is at its core an exploration and detailed look at a typical French family drama.