Madly in Life is an indie dramedy that tackles dementia with dark humor and levity. Alex (Jean Le Peltier) is finally ready to have a baby with the love of his life, Noemie (Lucie Debay). They find out what positions aren’t optimal for pregnancy, and they have adorable matching pajamas and bedsheets. It is the clear next step. They never could have planned for Alex’s mother, Suzanne (Jo Deseure), to need as much care and attention as a child would. Diagnosed with semantic dementia, a disease similar to Alzheimer’s, Suzanne’s behavior gradually grows more outrageous. Alex and Noemie find the strain of her condition to be the ultimate test of their relationship. Jo Deseure plays Suzanne with a hilarious vigor that serves as Madly in Life’s signature performance.
For his 35th birthday, Alex wants to go to a cute bookstore, but Noemie has other plans. His back is bad, and they end up shopping for a new mattress instead. They begin to notice Suzanne acting weird around this time, shortly after she insists on paying for Alex’s new mattress. She has been parking in handicap spots. She steals a lighter. Then, it escalates. Suzanne thinks her car is being stolen as Alex drives it away because she is no longer fit to drive. She randomly goes into a neighbor’s house, and sits down to eat in their kitchen like it is her own. Her bizarre behavior is upsetting, yet also plays very funny when necessary. A scene near the conclusion when Suzanne just walks outside in the nude, and Alex deadpans “We’re spending the afternoon naked!” is a great example of Madly in Life’s sense of humor.
It was hard to get behind the choice to portray Alex and Noemie as having strain on their relationship because of Alex’s concern and care for his mother. Family always comes first in my opinion, so to me this decision made Noemie a tad unlikable. I did however really love their relationship. I was rooting for them to thrive (and have that baby!) through all the highs and lows with Suzanne. Suzanne’s friendship with her new home attendant as they bond over music is also full of sentimentality and warmth. Madly in Life is at its best really anytime Suzanne is on the screen. It’s a charming film about aging and love—a foreign delight.
Madly in Life will next screen at the Molodist International Film Festival in May.