“I’m 20. My name is Thomas. Thomas Jouvet. But it’s not my real name. My real name is Tommy. Tommy Martino. I changed my name because my mother, Julie Martino, has abandonned me, me and my little brother, when I was 4 and him 2. Why did she do that…? When I found her, last year, after looking for her, she explained that she left us to look for a job. What I believe is that this is not the real reason. The real reason is that, my little brother and I, we kept her from living her life, the life she dreamt of. And me, what kept me from living, was not to know who was my real mother. So I look for her.
Based on true events, Je suis heureux que ma mère soit vivante is not a film for potential foster parents. It tells the troubled adolescence of Thomas, given up for adoption at the age of 4, along with his younger brother Patrick. Things start going awry when Thomas reaches 12. His aggressiveness towards his adoptive parents wrecks the health of his foster dad while finally getting to know his birth mother when he is 20 doesn’t bring the expecting closure.
Vincent Rottiers, interpreting Thomas at 20, has a foreboding intensity that puts you ill at ease from the first image. Aurélien Devaux’s neat photography and the Millers’ mise-en-scène, both fluid and sober, put all the emphasis on characters’ eyes and unsaid feelings. The music by Vincent Segal underlines the mood and offers the perfect accompaniment to this story of unfulfilled lives. –Agnès-Catherine Poirier, Venice Days
A student at Paris’ IDHEC film school from 1962 through 1963, Miller had his first practical cinematic experience while he was in uniform, serving with Le Service Cinema de L’Armee. From 1965 until 1974, Miller worked in assistant and supervisory capacities for many of France’s major New Wave directors, including Robert Bresson and Jean-Luc Godard. His principal mentor was François Truffaut, under whose tutelage Miller directed a trio of shorts and his first theatrical feature, 1976’s La Meilleure façon de marcher (The Best Way to Walk), a coming-of-age drama which bore traces of Truffaut’s Les Mistons (1957) and The 400 Blows (1959). Miller received César nominations for best director and writing for this film. Subsequent Miller-directed films can also be perceived as homages to Truffaut, many even using the same production personnel. The following year he made Dites-lui que je l’aime, for which he received a second César nomination for Best Director. He won a César Award for Best… read more
**1/2. Vincent Rottiers earned a César award nomination thanks to this film taken from the news. if you're not specially interested in the adoption problem, you may skip this one. Claude Miller was way more exciting when he directed (a very long time ago!) This Sweet Sickness (1977) or L'Effrontée (1985). A DVD zone I should have watched a giallo instead.