Bohdanowicz undertook the project without having previously met her subject, but for both the filmmaker and her audience, making Sellam’s acquaintance proves a rare pleasure.
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Maison du bonheur is a thoughtful, affecting study of the space we choose to take up in this world, and what happens when we grow old enough to realize the truth and consequences of those decisions.
Although hardly conceived or executed on the scale of his work, Proust kept popping into my mind as I watched this disarming film, with its meditative accretion of the fascinating little details that comprise a life.
Ms. Bohdanowicz’s self-interrogation is clearly important to her art, but I think she worries too much, at least where this subject is concerned. Her hostess, a model of charm, good humor and senior wisdom, is a movie unto herself.
Though those glimpses don't add up to what most people would call a portrait, they do evoke a life of old-fashioned female pampering, and contain just enough of Sellam's quirky personality to make those habits charming.