A young woman who is in love with a married doctor becomes dangerous when her attempts to persuade him to leave his wife are unsuccessful. However, when things are seen from his point of view, the real situation becomes clear.
Samuel Le Bihan,
Michèle, 20 years old, feels terrible after having broken up with her boy-friend. She meets Francois, who's a veterinarian and jewish. Michèle decides to convert into Judaism because she ... See full summary »
Val is 23 years old and full of dreams. She travels to New York to become an actress. She is lonely in a strange country, in a strange city, with little money and no friends. In her path, ... See full summary »
I liked this film. The French formula for romantic comedy doesn't depend on the characters being rich, young and handsome, an opulent setting , and no old people (except for very minor characters). French directors find romance in the humbler areas of Paris as well as the flashier parts. Camille (Audrey Tautou), an art school dropout, works as a cleaner, or "surface engineer" as she likes to be called. She lives in a garret in the same old apartment building as Philibert (Laurent Stocker), who is young and good-looking, but is the French equivalent of a dim gentleman. Philibert sells postcards for a living. Notwithstanding a stutter, he aspires to a career on the stage. He shares his rather grand but dowdy apartment, his grandmother's former home, with the gruff Franck (Guillaume Canet), a womanizing chef. Franck is pre-occupied with looking after his elderly grandmother Paulette (Francoise Bertin), who is hospitalized after a fall. When Camille falls ill Philibert invites Camille to convalesce at his place. Soon she is striking sparks off grumpy old Franck.
Philibert isn't gay; it's just that his romantic interests lie elsewhere. It is Pauline who draws Franck and Camille together. The French title "Ensemble C'est Tout" ("Together, That's All") says it all, really. (I haven't a clue what this film has to do with hunting and gathering).
Audrey Tautou has just about got the market for sexy French waifs sewn up. I've seen her in several other films and her performances are similar. Guillaume Canet lets us see his gruff chef's soft side and Francoise Bertin also evokes sympathy for someone made tiresome by old age. The part of Philibert's love interest Aurelia is severely truncated (the result of putting a 600 page novel into 100 minutes of film). This also tends to sideline Philibert later in the film.
I very much liked Jean de Floriet and Manon des Sources, directed by Claude Berri 20 years ago (two other literary adaptations). He is a very conservative, straightforward director, but he can produce some very vivid work. One very touching scene here is when Philibert goes to a speech therapist to cure his stutter. The therapist, Phillipe van Eeckhout, is one in real life and treated Berri after a recent stroke damaged his speaking ability.
So, we have no glamorous stars (though Audrey Tautou is big in France) and no shimmering background. But it's a warm-hearted story with some real emotion and, dare I say it, a happy ending. And here's something for the nit-pickers. Franck would never have got to London from the Gare du Lyon (except via the connecting suburban RER line). Paris - London trains leave from the magnificent Gare du Nord. But who cares?
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