When I watched writer-director Mikhael Hers' Amanda (This Summer Feeling, Memory Lane), I was just wondering about all those barbs against Indian cinema's sentimentality. The movie, which screened at the ongoing 31st edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, is a real tear-jerker, and I saw some among the audiences liberally using their tissues. But, nonetheless, it is a wonderful work.
David (played by Vincent Lacoste) is all of 24 and has two jobs to sustain himself. He lives in Paris and is very fond of his older sister, Sandrine (Ophelia Kolb) – a single mother with a cute seven-year-old daughter, Amanda (Isaure Multrier). Sandrine has bought tickets for the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and she hopes for a family reconciliation with their estranged mother, Alison (Greta Scacchi), who lives in London. But David is not interested in her, because she has not been in touch with her children for 20 years.
Then one fine day, David's life is shattered when a terrorist attack in a local park kills Sandrine, and he finds that Amanda has nobody else but just him to take care of. It is an awfully dicey situation, and as much as he adores little Amanda, he is unsure about playing her guardian. He is really scared of the enormous responsibility that life has forced on him.
The movie is warm and tender, and tells us how terrorism can wipe away smile and laughter in a matter of minutes. We see this most powerfully etched out on David: his joy and lightheartedness are clouded by the grim reality of the horrific incident. His boyish charm disappears, and we see a very adult looking man – who is perplexed and angry. There is one scene where David breaks down and weeps like a child, while Amanda is too young to comprehend what could have gone wrong with her mother. She just cannot understand why her mom will never come back.
Adding to the poignancy of the plot is the city of Paris with its Gothic structures forming the backdrop to David and Amanda's life in which the sunny blue skies suddenly turn grey and deadly. Lacoste is just wonderful – first as a playboy trying to woo Lena (Stacy Martin) and later as one hit. He conveys the transformation vividly and most stoically. When Lena, who survives the attack in the park, decides to withdraw herself in a country home, it comes as a double blow for David. His sister's loss is unimaginable, and when Lena too goes away, life seems all too bleak. Caught in all this web of sorrow is little Amanda, who is probably the most affected, really not knowing what has hit her. A scene of her alone at night weeping brings to the fore the consequences of the tragedy.
(Author, commentator and movie critic has been covering the Tokyo International Film Festival for several years)
Follow @news18movies for more