The film’s French title, “Les Murs Porteurs”—bearing walls—conveys how life’s passages can rattle your foundation. It’s happening to a Parisian divorcée, Judith, whose mother is slipping into a world of memories just as her child slips into adulthood, and away. She’s surprised to be facing middle age in this way; not so her brother Simon, a peripatetic political pundit who prefers not to face anything. Cyril Gelblat’s accomplished debut uses a refreshingly light hand to show the special nature of this kind of loss for the children of Holocaust survivors as their mother, Frida, increasingly confuses the present with a past they have no access to. Gelblat deftly sketches the family: the casual physicality, as a daughter rubs lotion into her mother’s translucent skin; the sexuality, as a wily old woman instinctively acts smarter for her son; the possessiveness, in the grasping of a neglectful father. In the stellar ensemble cast there are no debuts: Miou-Miou, the intellectual gamine of the 1970s, is all grown up now, and as Judith, nails the “sandwich” generation. Charles Berling tempers any threat of pathos with Simon’s absurdity, a drama of a ridiculous man. But it is Shulamit Adar, as Frida, who wordlessly conveys the mercurial nature of dementia and, metaphorically, the fragility of cultural heritage. —Judy Bloch
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