Saturday, April 9, 2011


Marion Cotillard, Francois Cluzet, Benoit Magimel
Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte
Velerie Bonetton, Pascale Arbillot, Joel Dupuch

With echoes of "The Big Chill", this French comedy-drama explores with raw honesty the relationships between a group of friends in their 30s and 40s.

After their friend Ludo (Dujardin) is severely injured in a horrific motorcycle crash, his friends ponder whether they should carry on with plans for their annual month-long holiday at the seaside. Since he is still recuperating in the ICU, they decide to head off for two weeks. But his absence causes a series of ripples.

The host Max a wealthy restaurateur (Cluzet) is becoming increasingly paranoid due to an uncomfortable revelation made by his best pal Vincent (Magimel), while their wives (Bonneton and Arbillot) have no idea what the problem is. Meanwhile, Marie, Eric and Antoine (Cotillard, Lellouche, Lafitte) are trying to resolve their own romantic issues.

With all of these neurotics thrown together in one house, things are bound to explode -- though it takes a long time for that to happen. In between, the narrative languishes with repeated gags involving boating and water sports, too many musical interludes, and Vincent's and Max's increasingly tense confrontations.

But filmmaker Canet lets us see these people responding to a scary event. It takes a while for the characters to reveal their personalities and complex inter-connections, but as the movie progresses they become remarkably vivid and involving. There are things about each person that we identify with, and the range of interaction is hilarious, edgy and sometimes darkly stirring.

The clever script continually deepens the relationships and heightens the tension. It also offers intensely telling insight into the way people relate to each other, mainly looking at the small lies we tell each other - and ourselves - to get through any potential awkwardness.

Thanks to a sparkling ensemble cast headed by Francois Cluzet and Marion Cotillard, they all deliver wonderful natural performances that add to the film's relaxed tone. But eventually the problem with this film is that it ultimately loses much of spark as it lingers on and on -- eventually passing the two-and-a-half-hour mark. A tighter edit would have helped keep the viewers more invested in the characters' plight.

2 popcorn buckets:

Ping-i said...

I've been looking for a good French film lately. I borrowed Viva laldjerie, but haven't finished it yet.

Daphn3 LaurA said...

I usually check out websites that feature foreign language films and choose from there which ones I want to watch. :)


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