Based on a play by Murielle Magellan and written by Anne Giafferi with collaborator Anne Le Ny, with Giafferi also directing. The play adaption works quite well as a film here and the writing is on point. Of course, being based on a play the story is rather dependent on conversation to advance the story, which works quite well. The characters are well developed and feel human in how they interact and talk. None of them are perfect; all have issues and imperfections, making them like people most of us know. The way they evolve and move into their story works. The interpersonal stories are touching and realistic, even if some of the characters are clearly above middle class. The story is dependent on these interpersonal connections, on the feelings, the conversations they have.
The cast chosen for Love at First Child is led by Isabelle Carré as Gabrielle, the put upon grand-mother who is trying her best to keep her family going and going forward. Playing against her as the potential grand-father Ange is Patrick Bruel who gives a great performance of a man learning to be a loving father/grand-father/father figure. Both of them give good main performances and each of their performances is influenced by the other in a way that brings a lot to the story. Also pivotal are the young parents played by Alice de Lencquesaing et Thomas Solivérès who do well as two exes at odds. The four of them create a group connection that is effective and familiar.
The film uses a few locations carefully, most likely due to its start as a play, those being in and around Paris and looking stunning as the city usually does on film. The cinematography by Stéphane Cami shows them in beautiful framing and uses them to their best advantage while still keeping the closeness and intimacy of what the play must have been like.
Love at First Child, called Ange et Gabrielle in French which is more descriptive of the two leads and of the fact that the film is more about the grand-parents than the parents or even the baby in question in the English title. This film is a lovely, not too romantic, love story that works on many levels and even brings a few laugh out loud moments that help the film move along towards its happier moments. Love at First Child is a romance for those who prefer dramas to full blown romantic comedies. It’s still funny and fun to watch, a light-hearted take on a story that could have been a heavy, preachy one. The performances, especially by Isabelle Carré and Patrick Bruel are delightful and sweet to watch. It’s one of those films that one should watch with a loved one on a rainy afternoon.