To watch the movie producer Gregoire Canvel (played by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) walking through the streets of Paris in the heartbreaking Father of My Children is to witness a man with the weight of the world pressing down on him. In the early sequences of Mia Hansen-Love's beautifully observed family portrait, Canvel, wielding a mobile phone (or two), smoking cigarettes, fielding panicky missives from a Swedish film set, is all resilient charm. Sure, he owes millions to labs, to studios, to the banks. A Korean filmmaker is unhappy with the Paris crew. Lawyers and creditors are closing in.
But Gregoire still has his crazy movies, his insecure but talented directors and actors. And he has his wife, Sylvia (Chiara Caselli), and three daughters: teenage Clemence (Alice de Lencquesaing, the actor's real-life offspring) and the goofy little sprites Valentine (Alice Gautier) and Billie (Manelle Driss). There is a house in the country, across a cobbled road from a river, and even if he's forever on his cell, negotiating terms, pleading for time and money, placating his Swedish auteur, there are moments with his children, stolen time with Sylvia.