Revenir (Back Home): Venice Film Review

© Thierry Valletoux

The last film I saw at the 2019 Venice Film Festival was Revenir (Back Home), a French drama starring Niels Schneider and Adele Exarchopoulus, and it was a pretty fine way to go out.

Schneider stars as Thomas, who has returned home to his family farm after running away to Canada 12 years before due to a rift with his dad Michel (Patrick d’Assumcao). Although his father has urged him to stay away – even telling him not to come to his brother Mathieu’s funeral – Thomas returns after learning his mother Catherine (Helene Vincent) is sick and in hospital. When he comes back, Thomas meets his six-year-old nephew Alex (Roman Coustere Hachez) and Mathieu’s widow Mona (Exarchopoulos), who are still living with his parents.

It’s very rare for me to consider a film too short but I would have actually liked a little bit more of Revenir. I was excited by the 76-minute runtime but when it reached the ending I was disappointed we didn’t get an extra five or ten minutes just to wrap things up a bit more. I had an idea of where it was going but I would have liked to see it played out.

The film mostly just follows Thomas as he helps Mona juggle work and Alex, something his mother did, so there are loads of lovely scenes of him looking after the boy and of the trio hanging out together and these are balanced with awkward hospital scenes. The tensions are high between Thomas and Michel and it’s such an uncomfortable watch when they’re in the room together. You would hope they could patch up their differences now the family matriarch is sick but nope! I’m a big fan of explanations, so it was quite frustrating not knowing what happened there.

The star of the show for me was Exarchopoulos who was simply radiant onscreen and subtly conveyed the stress of handling Alex on her own, being a widow and not knowing what will happen once Catherine passes away. She has good chemistry with Schneider, who is clearly uneasy in his old family home. Michel was infuriating as the old man stubbornly refusing to put the past behind him, while Hachez was cute and had tons of personality as Alex.

Revenir, directed by Jessica Palud, is a fairly average family drama but the performances are good, I became invested in their characters’ lives, and I was disappointed when it ended.

Revenir premiered at the 76th annual Venice Film Festival

Rating: 3/5

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