Review: My Dad Is a Sausage
- With her first feature, Anouk Fortunier delivers a refreshing family comedy with a pop sensibility about the freedom to reinvent oneself
Anouk Fortunier’s feature debut My Dad Is a Sausage [+see also:
interview: Anouk Fortunier
film profile], written by famed Flemish screenwriter Jean-Claude Van Rijckeghem (Vincent and the End of the World [+see also:
film profile], Brasserie Romantiek [+see also:
film profile], Oxygen [+see also:
film profile], Moscow Belgium [+see also:
film profile]) and based on a children’s book by Agnès de Lestrade, follows the adventures of a surprising and enthusiastic father-daughter, looking for their identity and their true place in the world.
At the dawn of her adolescence, Zoé (Savannah Vandendriessche) stands back and shrewdly observes the comedy that her family appears to be enacting, each wonderfully playing their given parts, knowing the screenplay by heart, never changing one line from their perfect family script. Mum, a successful entrepreneur, is on a work trip, while dad works in a big bank and plays with numbers. Her big sister alternates between violin lessons and school homework, while her big brother… Well, her big brother with survivalist tendencies lives shut up in the cave, but that’s another story.
And so when her father (Johan Heldenbergh) quits his banking job on a whim to become an actor, her mother is anything but happy. Zoé is the only one to believe in her father and throws herself into this adventure with him. After all, the young girl has her own affairs to settle regarding her place in the world. She will therefore accompany her father in his quest, finally finding in this adult in full existential crisis a model who dares add some colour to his life by reconnecting with his inner child.
My Dad Is a Sausage stars from a wacky premise (an accountant in mid-life crisis decides to return to his first love, the theatre, and ends up in a vegan sausage costume in a TV ad), to offer a modern fairytale about burnout that is both poetic and rooted in reality, and aimed at an audience of children and young teens that are taken seriously.
Taking young audiences seriously while dealing creatively with bitter and extremely contemporary topics is in fact a real strength of a bunch of young Flemish female directors. While Anouk Fortunier’s film tackles burnout, Frederike Migom’s Binti [+see also:
film profile] touches on the subject of undocumented people and Dorothée van den Berghe’s Rosie & Moussa [+see also:
film profile] addresses life in urban social housing.
The film leaves a mark thanks to its ability to stare audiences straight in the eyes, and thanks to lively performances from the very young Savannah Vandendriessche — who in fact already starred in Rosie & Moussa — from the excellent Johan Heldenbergh (the hero in The Broken Circle Breakdown [+see also:
interview: Felix van Groeningen
interview: Felix Van Groeningen
interview: Felix Van Groeningen
film profile] and in the American film The Zookeeper's Wife) and from Hilde De Baerdemaeker, frequently seen on Flemish television.
Striking too are the beautiful animated sequences, which echo Zoé’s interior life, her questions about the balance between our creative and rational parts, our right and left brains, and which poetically and intelligently punctuate the story.
My Dad Is a Sausage is produced by Dries Phlypo for A Private View in co-production with Dutch producer néerlandais The Film Kitchen and Leitwolf Filmproduktion in Germany. The film is sold abroad by Studio Hamburg Enterprises and released in Belgium by Paradiso on 23 June.
(Translated from French)
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