After a long romantic holiday, Mounir (Tahar Rahim) proposes to Murielle (Emilie Dequenne). Overjoyed at Mounir’s proposal, Murielle accepts.
Mounir’s mother, brother and sister live in Morocco, but he has been adopted by André Pinget (Nils Arestrup). André is financially successful a physician (general practitioner) who has taken it upon himself to help Mounir’s family with his money, entering into a fraudulent marriage with Mounir’s sister so she can have a Belgian Passport. Pinget is a tough and controlling type who seems to have need to be recognized as the patriarch who has the last word in the Moroccan family for whom he has now become an indispensable benefactor and pater familias. Mounir lives with André and depends on him for his salary, too. Murielle is a competent school teacher. She is estranged from her mother and has occasional contact with her elder sister.
For financial reasons and because Pinget demands it, the newly married couple goes to live together with Pinget in his large apartment in Brussels. Slowly Pinget’s hard and controlling manner begins to take its toll on the young people. They start a family and their three lovely daughters bring the young couple happy moments, but ultimately, the relationship between Pinget, Mounir and Murielle puts an unbearable strain on the young people’s vulnerable personalities - with tragic consequences.
Inspired by a news story, this is as heartrending a film as one is ever likely to see. Writer/director Joachim Lafosse skilfully shows the psychological development of the protagonists with close up camera shots that give a feeling of the intimacy and claustrophobia among the protagonists. Niels Arestrup as the brooding Pinget is excellent. Emilie Dequenne’s performance portraying the psychological development of Murielle is outstanding.
If you decide to see this gut-wrenching film, make sure you give yourself enough time to recover. Even then, this film with stay with you for a long time.