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What makes a marriage? Georges and Natalie argue and shout constantly; Fred, a bachelor playboy approaching 50, sleeps with many women, loving them all, living with none. Vincent, nearing 40, best friend of Georges and Fred, is married to Gabrielle and they have a son. He keeps his feelings to himself. He and Gabrielle are playful and passionate with each other, then bored and detached. Is Vincent holding back, and if so, why? A colleague accuses him of believing in romantic fairy tales. Gabrielle imagines them separated. Are the basics of life women working and men chasing skirts? Is marriage the alternative to possibilities? Written by
"Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants" ("Happily Ever After") is a cleverly written examination of contemporary views on love, lust, marriage, infidelity, and the single life. Writer/Director/Actor Yvan Attal has come up with a winner, an entertaining, funny, and ultimately thoughtful treatise on how we cope with partnering.
Three men work together in a car dealership. Vincent (Yvan Attal) is the apparently happily married man with a beautiful wife Gabrielle (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and child. Georges (Alain Chabat) on the other hand is in a tumultuous marriage with Nathalie (Emmanuelle Seigner) who has gender issues that go far beyond feminism and negatively influence their child. Fred (Alain Cohen) is single, bedding every lovely woman he encounters, balancing trysts between mornings, afternoons, and evenings and is deeply envied for his Don Juanism. But Fred actually longs for the sense of belonging that married men enjoy.
The men's lives intertwine on many levels. Most important, we discover that Vincent has a lover (Angie David) despite his idyllic married life and while it is Georges whom one would expect to seek solace from a lover, he remains faithful to his nagging wife! Gabrielle senses Vincent's affair and encounters a sexy man in a music shop (Johnny Depp) who begins to preoccupy her thoughts. She is a real estate broker and comes close to an assignation with a client but remains faithful. All the while she daydreams about her brief encounter with Depp and satisfies her wandering eye with those memories. Fred discovers that one of his paramours is pregnant and happily decides to leap into the married fray. The only 'adults' sharing advice here are Vincent's long married parents (Anouk Aimée and Claude Berri in very welcome comeback cameos!) and it is this 'standard' that adds the final humor to the film.
The manner in which all three men deal with their living situations asks as many questions as it gives answers. Attal finds joy in all forms of coupling and is careful to offer all sides of decisions his characters make in arriving at what provides them happiness. This is a smart movie with terrific twists. There is just enough slapstick (an all out food fight between Vincent and Gabrielle - real life husband and wife team Attal and Gainsbourg - that proves to be one of the fun-loving bits of silliness that binds their marriage) to keep the mood light. Not a profound film, but a joyous French comedy handled by total pros! In French and English with subtitles. Recommended. Grady Harp
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