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'The Players' worked for me: it's funny when it's supposed to be funny and dramatic when it's supposed to be dramatic, and the performances of Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche are so charming that even when their characters behave like douchebags I enjoyed spending time with them. It's not a great movie or anything, but its collection of stories revolving around the subject of infidelity is a smoother ride than most anthology films.
In one of the best segments Dujardin, transformed by a monobrow and a change in body language, plays a loser who fails to bed any of his co- workers at a conference while his wheelchair-bound rival puts him to shame. Despite Dujardin relentlessly trying to cheat on his wife he's a sympathetic figure, and the ending is quite sweet in its own way.
In another segment Lellouche feels his age when trying to keep up with his much younger girlfriend as she and her friends tear it up. Lellouche builds a believable character here, and as the night goes on and his humiliation gets worse, I again felt quite sorry for him, although the ending suggests that worse is yet to come.
The funniest part of the movie sees Dujardin and Lellouche as buddies who screw their way around Paris and then head to Vegas for more debauchery. Their homoerotic relationship is a lot of fun at one point they philosophise about man's inability to stay faithful while each banging a different girl and the sudden turn their story takes towards the end is very, very funny.
On a more serious note, Dujardin and his real-life wife Alexandra Lamy play a married couple dealing with the fallout from revealed secrets. Springing from real life rather than farce, this ends in a satisfyingly open way. Other bits and pieces plug the gaps, most of which made me laugh.
The involvement of Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius draws an obvious comparison between this and 'The Artist', and no, this isn't on that level. But I liked it, I liked it a lot.
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