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After reading his brother Alberto's autobiographical book in which he accuses him of blatant cynicism and treason, TV reality producer Raphaël decides to invite him and all the gang of friends he used to belong to to his beautiful villa in Marrakech. The official reason is the celebration of his forty-fifth birthday but this is only a pretext. A major conflict is inevitable... Written by
Diane Kurys'last, entitled "L'Anniversaire", is part of her lesser efforts, closer to "Cocktail Molotov", "Un Homme amoureux" or "Les Enfants du Siècle" than the superior "Diabolo Menthe", "Coup de Foudre" or "La Baule-Les Pins". The point of departure of this dramatic comedy is not extraordinarily original but has already given rise to memorable films like American "The big Chill", French "Mes meilleurs Copains", Italian "C'eravamo tanto amati", Canadian "Les Invasions barbares", to name a few. With such potentialities in store, the viewer could reasonably expect this new Kurys opus to join the superior category. Alas, this is only passable entertainment, which can help to kill the time, nothing more. What prevents "l'Anniversaire" from being a great film is the numerous defects which plague it. To begin with, the lazy soundtrack consisting, one more time in recent cinema, of a compilation of international song hits, never managing to give unity to the whole thing. Second, the reduction of Moroccan actors to the role of servants (Hey, Miss Kurys, Morocco is not a Frenck colony any more!). Another serious flaw is the lack of bite in the satire. Daniel Saint-Hamont (her co-writer) and Kurys do have digs at targets such as cynicism, TV reality, the corrupting domination of money but they do it so mildly, so politely that they miss their point. Last but not least is the miscasting of Lambert Wilson who is a good actor but too kind, too elegant a person to play a cool shark efficiently. His natural niceness shows through all the time!
If "L'Anniversaire" remains pleasant to see in spite of everything, it is thanks to its other actors, who are more at ease with their characters than Wilson, from Michèle Laroque as a peevish has been film actress to Jean-Hugues Anglade playing to perfection the rebellious, unhealthy brother; from slender, delicate, sensitive Isabella Ferrari to hilarious Antoine Duléry who mimics Charles Aznavour like nobody else. And let's not forget Florence Thomassin looking as if she had always been a daft, outrageous, joyful hair stylist!
Thanks to them, the viewer does not totally waste his/her time.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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