If Jewish sons have mommy issues, then Jewish dads have daughter issues. This phenomenon crosses time zones and national boundaries, as proven by the Seattle Jewish Film Festival’s opening night flick, “The Day I Saw Your Heart.”
The festival has strong representation from France this year. “The Day I Saw Your Heart” (“Et Soudain Tout le Monde Me Manqué — “And Suddenly I Miss Everyone” is the French title) starring Mélanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”) as Justine and Michel Blanc as her meddling father, stands in the middle of a family whose dysfunction, embarrassingly, appears to be its most Jewish trait.
One has to wonder why the adorable Justine just can’t get it together. Crashing on her sister and brother-in-law’s couch — nearly botching their adoption home study — the quirky blonde picks arguments with baristas and goofs off on her job in a medical clinic by taking X-rays of household objects.
We come to find that Justine’s clinical pastime is an expression of her artistic side, and when Justin Timberlake lookalike Sami (Guillaume Gouix, who stars in recent French-Israeli drama “Alyah”) drifts into her life, he becomes an objet d’art, too. In one of the most creative romantic sequences I’ve seen in some time, Justine X-rays various parts of Sami’s body after the clinic has closed for the night. Back home with the images held up to the window, she torments herself finding the perfect arrangement.
Are her X-ray art projects art pour l’arte, or, peut-être, art pour le inner turmoil caused by la famille, in particular, le père?
Eli Dhrey, Justine’s father, not only gave his daughters a run for his love, but now, remarried and getting on in age, announces his wife’s pregnancy. This does nothing for Justine, who has spent her life trying to win his love (hence many failed relationships). And when Justine discovers that her long string of ex-boyfriends are all in close contact with her father — he’s even leaving his business to a couple of them — and that he’s pulling Sami into his collection, you can imagine all the more why she’s crashing at her sister’s place and confiscating their toaster for internal exams.
When Eli, in his meddling way, finds out that his daughter has been X-raying a boyfriend, he requests a session. But what Justine finds is not art. Holding up the image of his chest X-ray, she spots a problem with his heart. Cue the irony.
Facing a life-threatening situation, Eli and his wife and daughters have to sort out their issues before it’s too late. Although only vaguely Jewish, “The Day I Saw Your Heart” is, if you’re not too uncomfortable, heartwarming.