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An upper middle-class French family celebrates a birthday in a restaurant. In one evening and during one meal, family history, tensions, collective and separate grudges, delights, and memories both clash and coalesce. Written by
Eileen Berdon <email@example.com>
If like me you like French films, you will like this one. There is no plot to speak of and no time wasted in car-chases and violent action sequences. There is just fascinating dialogue and the interaction of interesting characters, plus the expression of real emotion and nuances of feeling. There is an intimacy with the characters that is typically French and which the Americans rarely achieve. At the end of the film you feel you know and understand these people and are wiser for having known them.
I loved the performance of Catherine Frot in the film. She was delicious and made the character of Yolande incredibly appealing and lovable. What a crying shame she should have shackled herself to such a self-centred, unappreciative husband. He was the luckiest man alive and yet too obtuse to realise it. How appallingly sad.
The high-light of the film for me was the little dance Yolande had with the quiet, philosophic bar-man Denis, played by Jean Pierre Darroussin, who, revealing his kind heart, offered to dance with her when her insensitive husband refused - despite the fact that it was supposed to be her birthday celebration. Denis's skillful dancing surprised them all, and disclosed a whole new aspect of his personality. There is a touching moment at the bar when Yolande, suspecting Betty's romantic interest and trying to encourage it, says to her with a lovely winsome expression; "He's a good dancer." And at the end of the film when Betty and Denis are seen to declare their love for each other, she says delightedly, to the chagrin of her snobbish and spiteful mother-in-law; "You know what this means? It means he's going to be part of the family."
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