Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Meant to be a record of the lives and times of several generations of a group of Italian families who immigrated to Marseilles at the turn of the 20th century, this uneven, 110-minute drama was not quite long enough or the budget high enough to fill in the gaps between changes in the story and its characters. The result is that the viewer is left disoriented whenever the story leaps over vital information. For example, two buddies separate before 1936, when one becomes an arms dealer in the Spanish Civil War. The other marries and has children, and when the lives of the children are picked up, their mother is inexplicably wheelchair-bound. Was she wounded in the war or did she have an accident? The viewers are never told. With more time and money, director Robert Guediguian might have plugged holes such as this one.