Have you seen the movie Café de Flore yet? If not, you should. It’s a beautiful tale of two different love stories, and has a really cool soundtrack.
Café de Flore is an enchanting movie interweaving two different types of love stories separated in time. Sounds confusing, but it really does makes sense! Vanessa Paradis stars in one of the storylines as a poor single mother, Jacqueline, of a Down syndrome boy in the ‘60s who does what she can to give him a fighting chance at life. Jacqueline’s story parallels that of Antoine (Kevin Parent), a recently-divorced, successful DJ in present day Montreal, who is adjusting himself and his children to his new life with a new love. But is this really his soul mate?
Not only does love bind these two stories together, but so does the music of “Café de Flore” –that becomes so hypnotic during the film, you’ll want to run home, find it, buy it and play it.
I sat down with Vanessa Paradis during the Toronto Film Festival for tribute.ca to talk about this beautiful film – directed brilliantly by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée – and how she could relate to the story as a mother.
“The story was so magnificent. It took my breath away when I first read it and each time I read it,” Vanessa says. “And working with Jean-Marc Vallée was something that I really wanted to do and boy was I not disappointed because it was quite an intense journey.”
As a mother of two children Lily Rose, 12, and Jack, 9, Vanessa admits she could relate to the character’s bonding and love for her child in the film who has Down syndrome. “As a mother I can relate to this character who has a very tough life. She is a mother of a Down syndrome boy and she’s raising him alone, her husband leaves her and she has no money and she’s really poor. Back then in ‘60s the lifespan for children with Down syndrome was 25. So she’s on this mission to save her little boy. She wants him… to die an old man. She loves him so much she devotes her whole life and all her time to him and puts whatever little money she has into his education.
“She loves him almost too much…and at one point you wonder, is she a monster? “ she continues. “She’s really tough and really hard on him and she becomes this slightly crazy mother. How I relate to this is that every parent tries their best nobody can be perfect. It’s hard to cope with your personality and want of protecting and loving your child and raising your child with what your child wants. The rule of human beings living together and getting along is not an easy thing. There are also the positives like the unconditional love of a mom and the relationship that those two have is really beautiful.”
In the movie, Vanessa is not the Chanel-looking model we’re use to seeing her as. But it didn’t seem to faze the French actress. “That’s not what I was there for,” she admits. “I wasn’t there to be glamorous. That’s what being in a movie is all about, to step into someone else’s life. It was not in my mind that, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to look so ugly.’ It was about being this mom and doing a good job. Even the scenery was beautiful.
For my full interview go to tribute.ca/tiff.
—By Toni-Marie Ippolito