The Bélier Family (‘La Famille Bélier’)

COMIC DRAMA; M, 1hr 45min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Karin Viard, François Damiens, Louane Emera, Luca Gelberg

Sound of music: Emera

Apart from 16-year-old daughter Paula (Emera), the cattle-farming Bélier family — Maman Gigi, Papa Rodolphe (Viard and Damiens, who in reality can hear) and son Quentin (Gelberg, who cannot) — are profoundly deaf and communicate solely through sign language. It fazes them not one skerrick: Gigi is an OTT case, while together, she and Rodolphe are lusty, cheerful and so confident that he is running for local mayor.


As her family's conduit to the wider world, all this is Paula's normal. When not helping out with the cows or at the Béliers' market cheese stall, she busies herself with regular girl stuff like joining the school choir and nursing a crush on a boy (Ilian Bergala). And if by now you're thinking, So What, then do hang in there — for Paula's pretty singing voice, for her irrepressible folks, who serenely refuse to define themselves as handicapped, for the character-building setbacks that are signposts to where everyone needs to be, for the easy picturesqueness of director Éric Lartigau's country life, captured as only the French can do it, and for the unexpected poignancy of learning to let go.