ELIZABETH: I’ll make you some crêpes!
ANDY: Mum, you shouldn’t eat sweets.
ELIZABETH: I’ll have just one.
How do you convince a terminally-ill person that there is still something worth living for? When Elizabeth is told that chemotherapy didn’t work, she refuses to undergo any further treatments and let the disease run its course. Her husband is dead and her daughter Andy has grown up and has a man who can take care of her. What Elizabeth doesn’t know though, is that there’s still something she can do for her daughter, for the circle to be complete, something she has wished for her whole life which she has forgotten about. There’s still something which is worth living for.
The themes of this story are the motivation we have to live our lives and, in particular, what makes a life worth living.
Cancer is a tragically widespread disease in today’s society which comes around like a thunderbolt, sometimes out of nowhere, claiming thousands of victims every year just in the UK. People undergo treatment after treatment, surgery and more treatments and in 60% of the cases it works.
But what about that 40%? What if your life is naturally coming to an end, you are happy with the life you lived and all you want is to keep your dignity even in death? Is it still worth undergoing further treatments? Is that 60% worth suffering the several side-effects caused by treatments and surgery?
Another theme of this story is the power that our loved ones have in influencing our decisions and the impact our choices have on them. In particular, the story also conveys the point of view of Andy who, as an only child, has always felt the pressure of making her parents proud. When her mother tells her that she has nothing left to live for, the young woman blames it on herself for not being able to keep her mum happy and proud. In a desperate attempt to dissuade her mother from giving up, Andy takes her on a journey throughout time, reminding her of who they’ve been and what they’ve done together, since she was a small girl until now. Andy does even more than that, suggesting a new life for Elizabeth, a new start, a new hope.
Elizabeth is a 63-year-old woman living alone in London. The untimely death of her husband, when she was 55, caused her a lot of pain but her daughter Andy gave her a reason to go on living. The lovely relationship with her daughter, the pride in seeing her getting married and achieve her dreams helped her recover, but happiness lasted just for a few years. When she was 60, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer located in her intestine. Supported by her daughter, she tenaciously fought it, repeatedly undergoing surgery to remove the tumorous mass and chemotherapy to destroy the remaining neoplastic cells. But today, after 3 years of treatments which deeply affected the quality of her life, the cancer is still there and despair and resignation have replaced the will to live in Elizabeth’s heart.
Andy is a 27-year-old woman, living in London with her husband. After spending years studying hard, she recently graduated in English Literature and she now works as a journalist. She is an only child and she has always been extremely close to her parents. When her father passed away, Andy grew even closer to her mother, as she knew she was now Elizabeth’s only reason to live. As an only child, Andy has always felt the pressure to make her parents proud. She knows how much her mother has always wanted to become a grandmother and when she gets pregnant, her first thought is how happy Elizabeth will be. However, when Andy learns that her mother decided to reject treatments and face her destiny, she feels that as a daughter she failed in keeping her mother happy.
Jonathan – consultant
Elizabeth’s oncologist is a 50-year-old man, very skilled, experienced and respected in his field. Despite his young age, he is already a widower and, like Elizabeth, he has found in his son a reason to live. He is very careful to his patient’s needs, not only from a medical but also from a personal point of view. He has looked into Elizabeth’s case for 3 years and he has always admired the strong and positive attitude with which she has always approached the treatments. The news that the tumour is still there comes as a surprise to him as well and all he can do is try to convince Elizabeth that there is still hope, if not to defeat the tumour, at least to contain it and to give her more time to spend with her daughter.
Genre and target audience
Crêpes is a drama with a particular focus on family relationships, in particular mother- daughter relationship. The film works within the genre both theme-wise and tone-wise, given its social realism, in depicting the impact that cancer has on families and the way people face it. Crêpes has potential to appeal to a wide age group and to both men and women, with a slight bias towards a female audience. Moreover, the combination of family drama and social realism within the story makes it appealing for a socially engaged audience as well.
Visual style and the meaning of Crêpes
Crêpes is a slow paced film with a warm tone and texture. The film begins with a shot of Elizabeth preparing crêpes, emphasising the significance it has to the character and the story which later unfolds as we live with the character. Elizabeth’s story deserves a treatment that shows the contrast between her life and what she is neglecting. With visually rich design and dynamic camera movements, the story comes to life.
The relationship between Andy and Elizabeth is depicted through the image of crêpes and the way the action of cooking together is carried out mirrors the state of the mother-daughter relationship, at the different stages that the film shows. Cooking crêpes is an activity that mother and daughter have always enjoyed doing together, from when Andy was a little girl, throughout their whole life together. It’s also a tradition that Elizabeth learned when she herself was a child and which she has now passed on to Andy. The action of cooking crêpes together mirrors their mother- daughter relationship raising the themes of the heritage that a mother passes on to her daughter, but also of loneliness in opposition to the company, suggesting that we have a more positive perception of life when we are surrounded by the people we love.
Music of Crêpes: composer Romain Zante’s statement
When reading the script and seeing Crêpes for the first time, I wanted to write a music that could be as touching as the story is. So I chose to use the piano as the main instrument, in a style that finds its roots in classical music, for the incredible emotional impact this music has on the soul. By writing a music that could exist and still be meaningful without the pictures, I elaborated a melody that evolves through the different scenes, subtly underlining the action while giving the impression it is sitting there as source music. The complexity of the music hidden behind an apparent simplicity relates to the complexity of the feelings of the two main characters, in what could be a quite banal mother/daughter moment. The strings that come up at the paroxysm of the conflict scene add a layer of emotion, and change the colour to melancholy/hope during the ending scene.
I need you
Mother & daughter tradition