Once you get past the fact that French artistes have seen fit to adapt a set of Ayckbourn plays for the screen and leave the setting in Yorkshire rather than shifting it a la Hollywood to the Jura so that all the place-names, notices, etc are in English and only the dialogue is French, there is much to enjoy. Not least the adaptation by the stand-out team of Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri who, even as I write, may well cop a gong at Cannes (I write this on the final day of this year's festival and their Comme d'un Image, which is also directed by Jaoui must, if there is any justice, cop a Best Screenplay Award and, in passing show Jury Foreman Quentin Tarentino how the big boys do it) and who prove here that they can adapt other writers as well as writing brilliant originals. It can take a while for the audience to adapt - especially a non-theatregoing audience - to the sets which are clearly theatrical and respect the conventions of theatre so that if a character enters a house we, the audience cannot follow as in a conventional film but must remain outside until they emerge, often as another character because that is another coup, Sabine Azema and Pierre Arditi handle ALL the acting chores between them and revel in ringing the changes on nine characters. Changes of scene and/or time lapses are marked by large 'picture-book' cards of the type used to teach infants to read universally. Weighing in at two and a half hours each this brace represents either a long haul or great value, yer pays yer money an' yer takes yer choice. As for me, I'd walk a mile for a Camel. 8/10
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