“Un petit frère” by Léonor Serraille: a portrait of an Ivorian family in France, conventional, but without clichés

“Un petit frère” by Léonor Serraille: a portrait of an Ivorian family in France, conventional, but without clichés

Léonor Serraille, Caméra d’or in 2017 for “Young Woman,” remains between two waters with this second film about an Ivorian family immigrating to France.

After Young Woman, Caméra d’or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Léonor Serraille portrays an Ivorian family between Paris and Rouen, from the 1980s to the present. The trial is not completely transformed with A Little Brother, despite some strengths, while she was in competition in 2022. The filmmaker does not escape a conventional realism, but also shows flashes of brilliance that, here and there, catch the film.

Rose arrives from the Ivory Coast in the Paris suburbs with her sons Jean and Ernest. She meets a companion who settles her and her children in Rouen, and the two of them go back and forth between the capital, where they work, and Normandy, where Jean and Ernest live alone. But the couple broke up and the family was split up, with no news of each other. Jean goes back to the country, and Ernest becomes a philosophy professor in Paris where his mother finds him, proud of his success.

Léonor Serraille’s heroine, Rose, is not the submissive woman one might expect. She shows independence towards the lovers she chooses, and towards her sons, whom she empowers while being caring. But the film hardly leaves an agreed realism, between coffee on a corner of table, race to the supermarket and meal to the grimace.

Léonor Serraille breaks out of this routine in the portrait of a willing and positive woman who fights while remaining confident in her host country, a cardinal notion in her eyes. The director, who also wrote the screenplay, does not however decide between an excess of optimism and a dark vision. The balance is rather half and half, showing a relevant realistic temperance, devoid of Manicheism.

A Little Brother is also a film about childhood and brotherly relationships developed over fifteen years. Jean and Ernest have two clear-cut characters, the older one, promising, will experience difficulties, while the younger brother of the title, more measured, will fare better. The first will learn a lesson that he expresses in the pretty and clumsy letter that Rose gives to Ernest as a conclusion. This last touching scene is the best of a film mixed between convention and insight.

The file
Genre : Drama
Director : Léonor Serraille
Cast : Annabelle Lengronne, Stéphane Bak, Kenzo Sambin
Country: France
Running time: 1h56
Release date : February 1st 2023
Distributor: Diaphana Distribution

Synopsis: When Rose arrives in France, she moves to the Paris suburbs with her two sons, Jean and Ernest. The construction and deconstruction of a family, from the end of the 80’s to the present day.