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Sacha loves his friends, his piano and partying. At night, he plays in a jazz club and seduces pretty girls. He lives for the moment, looking for pleasure. No alarm clock, no engagement, no taxes. Charlotte has three kids, two ex-husbands and a thriving professional life. She has no room for a love story. They have nothing in common. They shouldn't be together... They're made for one another. Written by
The 2nd Rendezvous of French Cinema returns this week, and coincides its opening night with ScreenSingapore to add a little bit of glitz and glamour to the latter event, having Sophie Marceau headlining the ensemble of invited cast and crew of films being featured in this year's edition. Many would associate the actress with sensuousness and beauty, but how about, physical comedy?
Yes, Sophie Marceau does what would be as close to slapstick as she can get, showing off some perfect comic timing in her role as a Calamity Jane type as Charlotte Posche, a woman we first see having trip and fall flat, face down onto a concrete sidewalk, have a key thrown at her face, before finally getting splashed soaking wet by a car speeding parallel to a waterlogged road. We learn that she's quite well connected by virtue of her marriage to rich industrialist type Alain Posche (Francois Berleand), although her marriage is now on the rocks, having been separated for two years.
But the film opens with the other protagonist, the singleton Sacha Keller (Gad Elmaleh), a musician whose routine includes playing at a jazz bar, performing with friends, and picking nubile girls up for one night stands. He's the quintessential swinger without commitment, until the aftermath of a disastrous client meeting puts him in the path to bump into Charlotte, and not before long, these two opposites start to attract, where one is obviously of a different social standing than the other, and the other obviously in it for what he would initially thought of as temporary, since older women are not his (nor his friends) type.
What makes this oddball romantic comedy work, are the constant surprises that are contained in the story by the wife-husband team of Sonja Shillito and James Huth, with James also taking on directorial responsibilities. Just as when you least expected, the strangest, quirkiest, and comical situations happen to either, or both of the characters, especially when they turn into klutzes, providing opportunity for either actor to show that they have it in them to do comedy, and very physical ones too. I admit to have gasped out loud for some of the stunts put on screen that would be miracles if not injuring its cast.
And making it quite real world to think about, especially for the single guys who are living the lifestyle as what Sacha is doing, is the notion of having to find a soul mate who just so happens to be divorced (or going to be divorced), twice, plus already having 3 kids from two different fathers, each exercising some clause to pop by every now and then. Especially if one is averse to the antics of attention-sapping children, with kid's vomit being a running joke in the movie. It's one thing about wanting to be with someone, and another when the baggage that comes along tests one's resolve and sincerity, given that the option to walk away, is always easily available, which is something keenly explored in the movie as well, since habitual changes usually calls for a massive modification of beliefs, and not everyone's cup of tea to leave one's comfort zone.
Most of us would be familiar with Gad Elmaleh if we had watched Priceless where he starred opposite Audrey Tautou, and here his makeup and costuming made him look a lot older as the musician and jingle composer at the cusp of a professional breakthrough, as well as a breakthrough on the personal romantic front in finally finding someone, only to realize things can get quite complicated. He brings about a touch of goofball zaniness when his character had to deal with kids, up close and very personal. But the scene stealer is of course Sophie Marceau herself, balancing the thin line between chic, and motherly, while looking good either way when tackling both facets of her character's life.
Happiness Never Comes Alone is quite apt for a title that ultimately champions the sanctity of family, and makes quite the good poster-child for pro-family policies where you'd have something dysfunctional, corrected in this feel good romantic comedy. It works as intended, offers surprises only on the comedic front, and has two excellent leads to bring some romance back into the air again.
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