I can’t decide whether or not I’m surprised that The Father of My Children is Mia Hansen-Løve’s third film. Much of the plot of the film has a very well-informed feel to it, like Hansen-Løve (who also wrote the screenplay) has lived though an eventful life and picked up some wisdom along the way. But there’s also a sense in some of the technical elements that had me thinking that this must be her first film.

The Father of My Children is loosely based on the life of filmmaker Humbert Balsan, as we watch Grégoire Canvel, a producer with a loving and close-knit family, spiral into a depression when he realizes that he’s going bankrupt. When he commits suicide, however, it is his family that will have to deal with the consequences.

It’s a very mature story, and it’s told with an attention to the environment and relationships that gives the film a lazy (bordering on tedious) pacing, the hallmark of an older style of filmmaking. But at the same time, many of the scenes seem to be cut off short when they shouldn’t be and there are a whole lot of unnecessary scenes.

For example, there are so many drawn-out scenes of the Canvel family essentially just being together that don’t seem to forward the story as much as they should. I mean, Grégoire doesn’t die until an hour in and the entire story could have been just as understandable if we had started at the funeral. To top it all off, the end is just plain unfulfilling.

It’s an artsy piece that would make a great study for a film class, but it also ends up feeling like a student adaptation of a much more mature writer’s work.