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Josse De Pauw,
Eva van der Gucht,
Werner De Smedt
Three men, three women, opposites, possibilities, and tastes. Castella owns a industrial steel barrel plant in Rouen; Bruno is his flute-playing driver, Franck is his temporary bodyguard while he negotiates a contract with Iranians, his wife Angélique does frou-frou interior decorating and loves her dog. The conventional Castella hires a forty-year-old actress, Clara, to tutor him in English, and he finds her and her Bohemian lifestyle fascinating. Is this love? What would she say if he declared himself? Through Bruno, Franck meets Manie, a barmaid who deals hash. They begin an affair. Are they in love? They joke about marriage. As the women hold back, the men must make decisions. Written by
Mammon meets art in an intelligent and witty French drama
A rich but uncultured provincial businessman falls for a local actress and pushes himself into her circle of arty friends. Initially they see him as a Philistine and treat him as a joke, but their attitudes change when he becomes a potential buyer for their work. Meantime, his interior designer wife is forcing her chintzy styles onto his sister who has moved in nearby, and his bodyguard and his driver are having to deal with their own shortcomings in their amorous encounters with a local barmaid.
The interwoven sub-plots, the intelligent characterisation and the witty dialogue make this a sophisticated drama in the best sense. The film indulges neither the shallow bourgeoisie nor the supercilious bohemians, but all the characters are real and believable.
If the plot offers no easy solutions to the complex needs and insecurities of its characters, it does at least show each of them, in his or her own way, learning something significant about themselves and about other people. The two leading characters in particular come to see each other in a more accepting light, and a direction for the future is opened up.
The confidence, intelligence and humour with which director Agnes Jaoui presents these tangled lives are a pleasure to experience, and she offers a refreshing and very European alternative to the more clichéd characterisation favoured by Hollywood.
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