Sonia, jolie black, mariée, quatre enfants, est aide familiale dans sa cité. Le jour où elle marie sa fille, le ciel lui tombe sur la tête. Robert, son voisin de palier octogénaire, est son seul recours. Plus blanc que lui, difficile de trouver. Plus serviable non plus, d'ailleurs... Mais dans la vie rien n'est gratuit. Sauf le hasard, si on sait en profiter. Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera...
It is a tough day for the Mousse family. Rebellious and angry, seventeen-year-old Victor flirts with drugs and petty theft. His sister, Christie, is getting married that afternoon, but her deadbeat father has gambled away the money needed for the reception. Sonia, the long-suffering mother, is the glue that holds the family together, but even her patience is running thin. Struggling to get by in the anonymous high-rises that stud the outskirts of Paris, she sticks up for her troubled eldest son, reassures her soon-to-be-married daughter that everything will turn out fine, concerns herself with the future of her precocious youngest son and manages her totally irresponsible, self-centred husband.
Director François Dupeyron uses this premise to drive his engaging look at the lifestyle of a besieged family. What emerges in Aide-toi le ciel t'aidera is a work of wondrous joy and spirit. Bathing his film in the golden hue provided by Yves Angelo's radiant photography, Dupeyron weaves the narrative of a neo-realist drama without the associated air of despondency.
The indomitable Sonia also hopes to buy the laundromat where she works. She has finally saved enough money to do so, but her life is about to take a surprising turn. Although events are about to spin out of control, everything must look as if it is in perfect order on her daughter's wedding day - and Sonia is a master of making the best of any situation. Forced to rely on her wits, she asserts power and eventually moves beyond the dispirited life that seems to be her natural lot.
Aide-toi le ciel t'aidera imparts the dark comedy of life as well as the highs and lows of an underprivileged sector of society. Dupeyron is assisted by a cast who ease effortlessly into their roles. While France roils with racial tension, Dupeyron finds glimmers of hope, symbolized by Sonia's remarkable spirit and energy.
Piers Handling (TIFF 2008, Toronto)
Runtime: 92 minutes
Production Company: ARP
Producer: Michele Petin, Laurent Petin
Screenplay: François Dupeyron
Production Designer: Patrick Durand
Cinematographer: Yves Angelo
Editor: Dominique Faysse
Sound: Jerome Thiault
Principal Cast: Claude Rich, Félicité Wouassi, Mata Gabin, Elizabeth Oppong
International Sales Agent: Kinology