Thursday, April 10, 2008

L'ANNIVERSAIRE

L'ANNIVERSAIRE
(THE BIRTHDAY)


TV 5




It has been a while since I've actually parked in front of my telly and caught a full length French film on TV5, the French cable channel.

This 2005 film tells the story of a group of friends who are reunited in exotic Marrakech, Morocco courtesy of Raphael, a reality TV mogul. He was motivated to organize this reunion upon reading an autobiographical book released by his estranged brother, Alberto. He invites them to celebrate his 45th birthday in his luxurious villa deep within the Moroccan desert. A beautiful and tranquil setting where soon enough old rivalries are unearthed, shocking revelations are exposed and their bond of friendship is threatened.

I recognized only one actor in this film, Lambert Wilson. He portrayed the Merovingian in the Matrix trilogy. The film had an ensemble cast who blended well together. In the same tradition as "The Big Chill", a bunch of complex characters essay different roles with their own quirky personalities. So even though we don't really get an elaborate development of each character, their acting as a group made up for it.

The film moves at a wild and frenzy phase. Each scene is highlighted by some dramatic moment. A secret being revealed or some past indiscretion getting exposed. The funny part for me though is how they peppered the film with an 80s soundtrack of English songs from groups like Air Supply and that group that sang "Abracadabra" (sorry I forgot who!). These songs were the hits during their wild revelry days of protesting in the streets as well as the era when Europe was in the throes of fascism rule with some tinge of Socialist ideals. So if only for those silly inane 80s songs, the film was a hoot to watch.

The picturesque background of an exotic city like Marrakech also contributed to the airy touchy feely sensation I got from the film. It is entirely in French with English subtitles. It made for a pleasant walk down nostalgia lane for me. Both in the sense that I grew up listening to those songs as well as the familiar topics they discussed as a group. I grew up in that part of the world (Belgium) so I was more or less consciously aware of the pressing issues which marred that region during that fascinating era.

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