The Book of Wonders

The Book of Wonders
Original title:La chambre des merveilles
Director:Lisa Azuelos
Running time:98 minutes
Release date:15 march 2023 (France)
This is the crazy bet of a mother ready to do anything to help her son wake up from his coma. After Louis' accident, Thelma decides to do for him the 10 things to do before the end of the world that he had written in his diary. By listening to these adventures, Louis will see how beautiful life is and that he must come back! By fulfilling a teenager's dreams at the age of forty, Thelma will live an incredible journey that will take her much further than she ever imagined...

Mulder's Review

There is nothing more beautiful on earth than a mother's struggle to protect her child and do everything possible to ensure that he or she has a good life surrounded by loving people who are ready to go beyond their limits to show genuine, sincere and deep love. We understand the great critical and public success of the novel The Book of Wonders by Julien Sandrel, which won the Prix Méditerranée des lycéens in 2019 and was translated into 26 countries. 

In this novel, a mother, Thelma, raises her child alone and they are inseparable and bound by a strong mutual love. However, when Louis is the victim of a skateboarding accident while crossing the street, their lives are turned upside down and their happiness becomes obscured. Louis has indeed fallen into a coma. Feeling lost without him by her side, Thelma finds Louis' book of wonders, a list of all the things he wants to accomplish in his life. Thelma sees this book as a way to feel close to him and believes that if she accomplishes everything her son has vowed to do it could almost bring him out of his coma. By following the order of the book and the missions her son had set for himself, Thelma will push her limits and conquer her own fears to discover true love. Thelma will travel the world while her son must also fight the greatest battle of his life to come back to life. If Julien Sandrel's book has become an intergenerational bestseller, it's because it deals with universal themes such as motherhood, the fear of leaving one's comfort zone, and above all the fear of losing those you love even more than your own life.

The difficulty of adapting such a novel is to find the right angle of approach but also to put a face on this iconic mother in whom many readers have recognized an idealized version of their own mother.  Fabien Suarez and Juliette Sales's perfectly mastered script avoids the too easy maudlin and focuses on the difficult quest of a mother who will have to go to Japan to get her son's skateboard signed, find his father, swim with whales, and go down a very difficult slope on a skateboard. To avoid a simple succession of more or less successful scenes, it was necessary to find a great actress who was as comfortable in comedy as in dramatic scenes, but also capable of being strong and weak at the same time. The wise choice to choose the actress Alexandra Lamy is certainly the best and a large part of the success of this film is due to her. In the same way, director Lisa Azuelos was able to demonstrate that she was perfectly comfortable directing dramatic comedies as were LOL (2008) and its remake LOL USA (2012) but also the films A Meeting (2014), Dalida (2016) and My Baby (2019).

As The Book of Wonders demonstrates so well, making a very good comedy-drama is not an easy task and it is necessary not only to know how to propose a gripping and touching story, but also to benefit from the presence of a perfectly selected cast and, above all, from the vision of a director who has a real look at our current society and its many flaws. The Book of Wonders is a portrait of a woman who is wounded but determined to fight. It touches us deeply and reminds us how quickly time passes and that we must live life to the fullest, even if it means taking many risks and braving danger.

The Book of Wonders
Directed by Lisa Azuelos
Produced by Eric Jehelmann, Philippe Rousselet
Written by Fabien Suarez and Juliette Sales
based on the novel by Julien Sandrel
Starring Alexandra Lamy, Muriel Robin, Hugo Questel, Xavier Lacaille, Martine Schambacher, Carima Amarouche, Eye Haïdara, Mona Walravens
Music by Astrid Gomez-Montoya, Rebecca Delannet
Edited by Baptiste Druot               
Production companies : M6 Films
Distributed by SND (France)
Release date : March 15, 2023 (France)
Running time : 98 minutes

Seen on March 12, 2023 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 12 seat A18

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