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The Merry Widow (2007)

Enfin veuve (original title)
Anne-Marie lives an easy life with Gilbert, a rich plastic surgeon: a beautiful house, a doggy, a cleaning lady, expensive furniture, the lot. Not so easy in fact when she thinks twice. She... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Anne-Marie
... Léo
... Gilbert
... Christophe
... Nicole
Claire Nadeau ... Viviane
Éva Darlan ... Catherine (as Eva Darlan)
... Alexia
... Gaby
Michel Lagueyrie ... Michel
Choukri Gabteni ... Saadi
Franck Pitiot ... Maurice
Julien Cafaro ... Pierrot
Agnès Boury ... Madame Jobert
Tadrina Hocking ... Brigitte
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Storyline

Anne-Marie lives an easy life with Gilbert, a rich plastic surgeon: a beautiful house, a doggy, a cleaning lady, expensive furniture, the lot. Not so easy in fact when she thinks twice. She does not get on with her husband any longer. She gets on his nerves and he does not attract her any longer. She feels good only when she jogs on the beach and ... when she is the arms of her lover, Leo. One day, Gilbert gets killed in a car accident. Good news, since she will be able to live with Leo. The trouble is her well-meaning family settle at her villa with a view to supporting the "poor widow" morally. Anne-Marie just cannot admit she is not distressed at all, especially to her son Christophe. She is now even more of a prisoner than when Gilbert was alive... Written by Guy Bellinger

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Details

Official Sites:

Gaumont [France]

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Release Date:

16 January 2008 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Merry Widow  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Muriel Robin was considered for the role of Anne-Marie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mic Macs à Tire-Larigot (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Il mio rifugio
from Patrice Leconte's film "Tandem (1987)"
Music by François Bernheim
Lyrics by Riccardo Cocciante
Performed by Riccardo Cocciante
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User Reviews

 
A French twist on the "Merry Widow" trope... close enough to be a great comedy if it wasn't for ONE scene missing...
18 October 2016 | by See all my reviews

There was a scene in the excellent 1989 "War of the Roses" where Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) confessed to her husband Oliver (Michael Douglas) that the knowledge of his heart attack hadn't upset her at all, on the contrary, she felt like finally relieved from some life burden. That was a shocking revelation from a rather shocking film but it had the merit to highlight a tacit marital reality, it's only with the people that you spend most of your life with that such perversely mixed feelings can invade you.

Even the best mother thinks of throwing her baby out of the window once in her life, it's a natural symptom of maternal psyche but when it comes to marriage, psyche takes a further step. The merit of "The War of the Roses" is to have broken that taboo, movies got us used to crimes motivated by vengeance, passion and insurance money, but not wives secretly wishing that Karma would get them rid of their husband, if not in a natural, at least a guilt-free way. "At Last, a Widow" swims in similar waters, it's not as dark and thought-provoking as DeVito's classic, but within its comical vaudeville aspect, it exposes the same reality, of a woman who came to a point she became devoid of any tender feeling toward her husband.

The woman is Anne-Marie and she's played by the always-delightful Michele Laroque. Anne- Marie loves to jog at the beach, with headphones, singing romantic songs with the passion that seems to lack in her life. The movie opens with her repetitive attempts to meet her lover, Leo a handsome boat-builder played by Jacques Gamblin, and in the cuckold's role, Gilbert, a rich and cold plastic surgeon (Wladimir Iordanoff) is naturally oblivious to his wife's doings. But the rest of the world knows, and that includes Anne-Marie's benevolent housemaid (Valérie Mairesse) Leo's friends and all the brave people of that Southern seaside town. And obviously, Gilbert is the least likely person to solve the problem, he IS the problem. It's up to destiny to give a salutary hand.

But here is a movie that could have gone for a more mean-spirited tone, I'm sure if it was an American film, the husband would have needed to be portrayed as a prick or even a wife-beater to make his death more acceptable. But Anne-Marie can never have a free moment, she can't even give her lover a call, and the less she can, the more it reinforces our empathy, this is not the cunning sexy cheating wife, but a goofy likable one and that makes for a more sympathetic 'merry widow'. And the first act of the film shows that the director, Isabelle Mergault, didn't go for the easy caricature but rather nuanced and realistic characters. I especially loved that beautiful moment where you'd just think an argument is about to break up in the car, but then, even the 'bad" husband holds his wife's hand and smiles at her. This is not just realistic but heart-warming.

So, Gilbert isn't a bad husband and his death matters, and it's all justice that his loss doesn't lead to Anne-Marie's triumph. Indeed, his death unfolds the film's comedic premises: when Anne- Marie learns the news, she's shocked but you can't tell if it's joy or sadness. At this moment, the story takes a great turn because Anne-Marie is finally free to join her lover, if only she managed to get rid of the in-laws. This is a terrific premise that the script manages to handle as a great continuation of the traditional infidelity trope, but with a smarter twist, this time, it's the family to escape from. It's one thing to cheat a man but four or five persons, including a loving son, a jealous and suspicious sister-in-law and a senile father isn't the easiest task.

I have reservations though on the son's casting, he looks like a weird combination of Hugh Grant with the supersized mouth of Owen Wilson and his facial expressions were too distracting, besides, he looked nothing like his parents, but anyway, the film made me smile a lot, chuckle many times and laugh at a few hilarious bits. One of the film's funniest moments occurs during the funeral Anne-Marie pretends to cry while in fact laughing her ass off. The humor is quite cruel regarding the late husband but the situations are dealt in such a lighthearted way and Anne-Marie is given such a bad break that it seems fair enough to laugh with it. The situations go as far as remembering the plot of the film she supposedly went to see or find a way to leave the house as discreetly as possible, I love how the film deals with such tiny details, even the writing of a farewell letter isn't as simple as it sounds.

And I also love that this is not a sort of feminist pamphlet about abused wives, Anne-Marie wanted to be freed from her husband because she loved another man, she's still a woman in need for love and affection. This is why her climactic confession is a very powerful moment. But I have one regret. A simple one. It's like being given a good meal and one missing ingredient spoils the whole taste. There was one scene missing in the film: Anne-Marie visiting the cemetery and telling the truth in her husband's grave. Granted she felt nothing at this death, but I wouldn't believe that such a significant event wouldn't have an emotional aftereffect, and if he didn't deserve her love, he deserved at least the truth. Of course, he's dead and that wouldn't have changed anything, but I thought that scene would have made Anne-Marie really come full circle with herself.

For such a good scene, the obligatory happy-ending would have worked, instead, I liked the film, but I feel like some great potential was wasted.


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