A French family lives a prosperous life, complete with expensive villa, expensive swimming pool and expensive cars. In Belgium a more modest family lives in an environmentally responsible house especially designed to save energy. For reasons both financial and practical, both families swap houses for the holidays. The Belgian pater familias, who senses that his wife is drifting away from him, notices with dismay that she is not averse to the pleasure-loving existence. Meanwhile the French parents discover that their teenage son regards their Belgian outing as pure torture...
There's not much to say about this comedy, which is too bland and unremarkable to make much of an impression. People meet, people look at household appliances, people make love, people quarrel, people talk about their ideals - it's watchable and vaguely enjoyable, but pretty "meh". There's a pair of young lovers which is supposed to be charming ; actually both of the partners, especially the male, gave me a profound desire to kick them in the pants.
However, there was one aspect which really, truly annoyed me and that was the stereotypical portrayal of environmentally conscious people. The father of the Belgian family was pictured as a kill-joy fanatic who talked of little else than the "right" kind of food, the "right" kind of light bulbs, the "right" kind of heating, the "right" kind of car, and so on. Dear readers, we ALL need to worry about the way in which we fullfil our basic needs for heating, housing, nutrition, transport and so on ; and we ALL bear an individual responsibility for adopting an environmentally conscious lifestyle and setting an example to our children. This has got nothing to do with eccentricity or pettiness or narrow-mindedness. It is a question of survival.
In case you're doubting this, I'm writing this little review from Belgium, which has groaned under a summer heat of historic ferocity. The temperatures of the North Sea, as measured near the Belgian coast, have surpassed everything measured or even estimated before. Ask yourself a simple question : do you think that you could live as well as you do now if most summers were going to bring along temperatures of 35 to 45 degrees Celsius ? Do you think that you could live at all ?
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