Blame it on Fidel
(La Faute à Fidel!)

foreign films

Blame it on Fidel (La Faute à Fidel!)
Made in: France
Language: French, Spanish
Director: Julie Gavras
Starring: Nina Kervel-Bey, Julie Depardieu, Stefano Accorsi, Benjamin Feuillet
Year: 2006

Synopsis: 9 year-old Anna (Nina Kervel-Bey) is a bright kid living with her well-to-do family in 1970s Paris. She has a life of comfortable structure and routine with her mother Marie (Julie Depardieu) and Spanish father Fernando (Stefan Accorsi).

Fernando is a successful lawyer who has smuggled his sister, Marga (Mar Sodupe), out of Franco-controlled Spain along with Marga's daughter Pilar (Raphaëlle Molinier). Marga was on the lam from Spanish authorities for harboring anti-Franco views, and labeled a communist.

Anna's parents soon get caught up in the heated political turbulence of the time, and run off to Chile to get involved with Salvador Allende's presidential campaign. When they return to Paris, they become hard-core socialists and commit their lives to radical activism.

Through Anna's eyes, we see her life get turned upside down as her once-comfortable life is disrupted and she is forced to contend with major life changes, such as moving to a smaller apartment and becoming exposed to political doctrines that she isn't old enough to process. What follows is an eye opening journey for her as well as her parents, as all eventually have their deepest values challenged.

Remarks: Blame it on Fidel is an exciting, thought-provoking film from Julie Gavras, daughter of acclaimed director Costa Gavras. Nina Kervel-Bey steals the show as little Anna, and her struggle to make sense of the radical changes in her life often lead to humorous and surprisingly intelligent observations.

As adults, Gavras understands that we know more about politics than Anna. And it's ingenious how Gavras shows us, the viewers, how the consequences of political activism can lead to issues and situations that even grown-ups have a hard time understanding.

From her parents, Anna learns that life isn't just about her needs. But her mother and father, after imposing changes on her life, discover that they, too, are guilty of the same child-like selfishness while working for their various causes.

Much to my relief, Blame it on Fidel does not advocate any one political ideology or point of view. It's a story that realistically addresses the often scary realization, for both children and adults, that finding the right answers is never easy and that life is full of unexpected changes.

Who would like this movie: Blame it on Fidel is definitely for you if you're interested in foreign films, and have an interest in history. You'll also get something out of this movie if you're a politically-minded person whose beliefs aren't easily summed up on bumper stickers or T-shirts.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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