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Original title
Le voyage en Arménie
Running time
125 min.
France France
Ariane Ascaride, Marie Desplechin, Robert Guédiguian
Arto tuncboyaciyan
Pierre Milon
Co-production France-Armenia;
Robert Guédiguian is one of the most local of filmmakers, setting each of his films in the fascinating l'Estaque quartier of Marseilles. His 2005 film, the very fine Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars, was the first to break this mold, offering a fascinating portrait of France's former president, François Mitterand. That film was also notable for the absence of Guédiguian's usual company of actors, three of whom - Ariane Ascaride, Gérard Meylan and Jean-Pierre Darroussin - return in Le Voyage en Arménie. Shot and set almost entirely in Armenia, this latest film once again has virtually nothing to do with the director's familiar stomping ground of the Midi.

The story centres on a father and his daughter. Barsam (Marcel Blüwal) is ailing. Anna (Ascaride), a cardiologist, detects a problem with his heart and urges surgery. These two do not have the warmest of relationships, so it is perhaps no surprise that the stubborn patriarch refuses his daughter's advice. He disappears from France, back to Armenia. Anna, grappling with age-old issues - she feels her father ruined her mother's life - sets off in ill-tempered pursuit, helped by the irrepressible and equally irresponsible Yervanth (Meylan), a family friend who acts as Anna's guide when she touches down in the land of her father.

What ensues is classic: Anna does not know the country at all, does not speak its language and resents being forced into a place where she is not in control. Her search for her father drives the entire film. At the same time, through a series of tiny encounters and, most importantly, through the warmth of its inhabitants, Armenia gradually breaks down the resistance of this outsider.

Guédiguian has always been a master of naturalism and the intimate moment. As his career has evolved, his favourite actors have come to know his every wish, and have increasingly delivered performances imbued with dignity and insight. The reunited Ascaride, Meylan and Darroussin are wonderful but, as the freewheeling, crusty father, it is Blüwal who adds new colour to Guédiguian's palette.
2006: Rome Film Festival: Best Actress (Ariane Ascaride)
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