Amore Mio (Icarus Films/Distrib Films US, NR)

Alysson Paradis and Élodie Bouchez in Amore Mio.

Lola (Alysson Paradis) is reeling. Her husband, Raphael (Félix Maritaud, shown only in flashbacks), died suddenly, leaving her to raise their 8-year-old son, Gaspard (Viggo Ferreira-Redier), alone. We meet Lola on the day of Raphael’s memorial service, where her emotions run headlong into her overbearing mother. When Lola and Gaspard hop in the car with Lola’s sister Margaux (Élodie Bouchez) to go to the funeral, Lola begs her sister to take them somewhere, anywhere, other than her husband’s final goodbye. So off they go, headed due south—what they do when they get there, they haven’t quite figured out.

All this time trapped in a car and in cheap hotels puts both Lola and Margaux in an awkward situation, as the two sisters haven’t really kept in touch. There was no grand event that caused a fissure, they’re just such different personalities—Lola lives by the seat of her pants while Margaux is a responsible adult with a steady job and a well-furnished apartment, a difference that’s exacerbated by their sizable age gap—that they just kind of drifted apart and now, as adults, they don’t really know each other anymore.

From there, we follow Lola, Margaux, and Gaspard (the nephew Margaux barely knows, the son that painfully reminds Lola of the husband she lost) as they aimlessly wander through the south of France, Lola desperately grasping for a solution to her grief (as if there could even be such a thing) while Margaux anxiously yearns to be back home to deal with her own impending life changes. But of course, neither the south of France nor the comfort of home offers a magic solution to their problems. But it might just give the two sisters a chance for a long overdue reconnection and reconciliation.

Amore Mio is a story with no specific stakes, no clearly defined goal that its characters are chasing after or driving toward—rather, it’s a portrait of grief and sisterhood and the importance of staying connected with the people who know you best. As such, its success or failure hinges entirely on its ability to bring these sisters alive, to pull them beyond their stereotypical odd couple traits and make them feel real. Fortunately, both actresses are up to the challenge, particularly Paradis (sister of singer/actress Vanessa Paradis), who is absolutely magnetic as Lola with her infectious grin that she can expertly shade with happiness or melancholy or sarcasm as the moment sees fit. The draw of this film is in watching these two fantastic actresses careen and collide and bounce off of each other as their relationship reshapes and reforms.

In an exemplary early scene, as Gaspard sleeps and Lola and Margaux have a heart-to-heart by the hotel pool during their first night on the road, Margaux confusedly asks, “Why did you get in my car?” “People think they know how I feel,” Lola says. “I can’t handle the empathy.” She takes a slow drag from her cigarette and finishes, “I knew that wasn’t an issue with you.” Even the audience feels the jab. Even better is a later scene where the sisters share a bath, reviving a sort of silly, immature, adolescent bond that somehow builds to the sad reveal of an observation on love and loss that’s too perfect to spoil here but that puts a beautifully poignant exclamation mark on the film’s themes.

Director and co-writer Guillaume Gouix has a lengthy résumé as an actor (one of his bigger roles was in Gone for Good, a Netflix miniseries adaptation of a novel by thriller writer Harlan Coben) but Amore Mio is his first feature film as a director, and what a confident and well-formed debut it is. It’s a film that feeds off of intimacy, which Gouix captures with a lot of close-in, handheld shots that amplify Lola’s heightened emotions.  Gouix’s conviction to let plot take a backseat to character development, to let subtlety win over specifics, is what elevates this movie into something so compelling and watchable. It’s a film that respects its audience enough to make clear that it offers no easy answers because, when it comes to grief, it knows that there are none. | Jason Green

In French with English subtitles. Amore Mio is available on DVD from Icarus Films. The only extras on the disc are trailers of other Icarus Films releases. Amore Mio is also currently available to stream on Fubo or to rent on Apple TV or Vudu/Fandango at Home. For the latest streaming availability, visit

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