What a beautiful film this is! The action takes place over a 36-hour period – the Wednesday off from school – and we follow a group of about 10 kids from Nantes as they spend their day off with their messed up parents. The central characters are Victoria, a smart eight-year-old, and Martin Socoa, her wastrel of a father who has been ruined by philandering and gambling. The film follows the couple as they make their way through the chaos of his life – kicked out by his girlfriend, in court for nonpayment of alimony to his first wife, almost sacked from his real estate job for negotiating a deal with an even bigger loser than himself and of course the off track betting and poker parlour. He’s an irresponsible bastard and yet the film refuses to either judge him or to go for the easy option of presenting him as a loveable rogue.
Look at this man, the film seems to be saying. He has acted selfishly throughout his wife, abandoned his women, ignored his daughter, cheated, stolen, lied – and yet, is he all bad?
The performances, especially by the children, are out of this world and the complicated plot is brilliantly managed. The city of Nantes and the surrounding countryside are lovingly filmed – how lucky the residents are to have such a cinematographic record of their city.
Mercredi folle journée is almost perfect. If you missed it at the festival buy, borrow or, following the example of Martin Socoa, steal the DVD.