What you notice during breakfast at the Bélier farm is how noisy it is. The only thing is father Rodolphe (Francois Damiens), mother Gigi (Karin Viard) and teenage son, Quentin (Luca Gelberg) are all deaf. The only speaking family member is 16-year-old daughter Paula (Louane Emera). So, when they sell cheese at the market, she must be there in order to be the sign language interpreter between her parents and the clients. While going to school, she’s on the phone with possible clients, sets up meetings, arranging for the cheese to be delivered and has to go to doctor’s appointments with her parents. A lot of weight to carry for such a young person. One day she follows cute boy Gabriel (Ilan Bergala) into choir practice. She never thought of singing, and being too shy, she would never go on stage to sing. But teacher Monsieur Thomasson (Eric Elmosnino) is a demanding choirmaster. He has decided to that the whole repertory would be made exclusively of the song from successful French singer-songwriter Michel Sardou. I never thought much of his songs, but I must admit that I was quite impressed. When Thomasson helps Paula find her voice, what comes out scares her. But the teacher is convinced she has great potential and thinks she should go study in Paris. And the more Pauls sings, the more she wants to. But she is also scared. What is her family going to do without her? They don’t even know she sings. There are some unnecessary secondary plots, such as the father running in the municipal election. Those don’t really work. But everything Louane Emera does is magic. Of course, she is the winner of France’s version of The voice (called The voice in France!), and she has a beautiful voice, but what impresses most is how fresh and open is her acting performance. It all builds up and climaxes with one audition scene that makes La famille Bélier one of the most effective tear-jerker I have ever seen. And it is mainly because of Emera’s acting and Michel Sardou songs.
Stanislas Carré de Malberg
In French with English subtitles