This is one of the most engaging, well-constructed and satisfying comedies to come from France in recent years. It reminds me of some of Jean-Paul Rappeneau's classics--I can't give higher praise. The subject here is money: who has it, who wants it and who is resourceful enough to get it. Fabrice Luchini plays a software executive who is incredibly tight-fisted; we see him trying to duck out of paying the bill at a restaurant, and taking his contribution out of a fund for a retiring employee. He meets his match in a prostitute (played unforgettably by Géraldine Pailhas) who knows exactly how to mulct money from a man whose emotional development has been arrested by his avarice.
Vincent Lindon's character has the reverse problem: his restaurant is failing because his money-managing skills are non-existent. He's got the bailiff on his back (wonderful performance by Bernard Bloch) and his pregnant wife is trying to impose her family wealth on him. The supporting actors are fine; Claude Rich and Isild Le Besco are a father and daughter boiling with unresolved issues around his great wealth.
Philippe Le Guay has written some films that stick in my memory (Outremer and Post coitum animal triste) and Le coût de la vie is a very fine effort indeed.
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