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Maison du Bonheur

Directed by Sofia Bohdanowicz.
Canada, 2017, DCP, color, 62 min.
French with English subtitles.
DCP source: filmmaker

A delightful and life affirming portrait-of-sorts, Bohdanowicz’ film is set largely within the flower and memory filled Montmartre apartment of a Parisian widow and astrologer. Subtly anticipating the fascination with archival research that inspires Bohdanowicz’ most recent work, Maison du Bonheur gathers a poetic catalogue of Juliane Sellam’s cherished daily rituals, possessions and memories: watering her bountiful geraniums, displaying still-resplendent evening gowns recalling her beloved departed husband. The grandmother of a friend of Bohdanowicz, Sellam is offered as an emblem of joie de vivre and a charmingly old-fashioned ideal of feminine beauty that the film holds up as a kind of liberating self-certainty. The director remains only a partial presence, heard in brief monologues that counterpoint Sellam’s ebullience with a wistful melancholia and a touching humility about her filmmaking vocation.

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