30th Philadelphia Film Festival: ‘La Traviata, My Brothers And I’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

La Traviata, My Brothers And I

Directed by Yohan Manca

Screenplay by Yohan Manca

Story by Hédi Tillette de Clermont-Tonerre

Sometimes a film doesn’t have to be wholly original. It just has to be done well and that’s exactly the case with La Traviata, My Brothers and I. Technically the premise isn’t too far off from Billy Elliot, except instead of ballet, Nour (Maël Rouin Berrandou) loves opera. It’s what his dad used to sing to his mom and it’s what Nour tries to play for her at home, while she’s in a coma and being taken care of by his brothers.

Nour is the youngest of four and the film takes place over one summer. While completing community service (the film never expands on what happened), Nour hears Pavarotti’s voice coming from a classroom and gets invited to join the class by the teacher (Judith Chemla).

La Traviata, My Brothers and I isn’t a film that portends to know the answers, but that’s why it rings true. Nothing is simplified, including Nour’s relationships with his brothers, which are all very complicated and mixed. The brothers, too, have their own dynamics which reveal themselves over time and what’s great about the film is there’s room for all of them to play out.

La Traviata doesn’t moralize, either, or try to force a happy ending – which isn’t to say the ending’s unhappy, but it doesn’t make empty promises. While Nour could’ve fallen in love with any style of music, the specificity of his love for opera really stands out. Whether his efforts lead to a career, he’ll always have that passion going forward.

The 30th Philadelphia Film Festival runs from October 20th to October 31st. Click here for the full program.

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