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Jérôme, a senior executive, has just left his company. Determined to never work for nobody else ever again, he attempts to set up his own company, come what may, even ignoring the reluctance of his wife Laura. Ugo, their 11-year-old son, is a tennis player and a promising champion. To reach his goal, he must make it into the Roland Garros national training center. Just like his dad, he's willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Together, Ugo and Jérôme will realize that not all rules can be bent in the quest for success.Written by
Terre Battue is the story of a department store manager, Jérôme (Olivier Gourmet), and his relationship with his eleven-year-old son, Ugo (Charles Mérienne), a talented tennis player. And, without having seen it, you might think this is probably just another sports movie, in this case one of the rare ones on tennis. But you'd be wrong.
This first feature from Stéphane Demoustier, which surprisingly has not received that much attention, is about way more than just tennis. It is about parents and children. It is about father and son relationships, about how the actions of one might influence, for good or bad, the actions of the other. Demoustier also seems interested in taking a crack at masculinity as both the boy and the father take risks and are highly driven to "succeed" in tennis and business though their ambitions are potentially detrimental to not only those around them, but to themselves as well.
Demoustier and co-writer Gaëlle Macé could have easily turned this film into a cheap romantic comedy as well, and there were plenty of opportunities to do so, namely in cute tennis teacher Vimala Pons, but were able to skilfully avoid the clichés that would have ensnared lesser filmmakers. Instead, what they've created, though not flashy or groundbreaking or sexy, is a well-executed and thoughtful social movie, with sound direction and writing and performances from Gourmet and Mérienne.
Gourmet, who seems capable of playing just about any character that is out there to be played -- smart, dumb, good or evil, and everything between is one of the best actors working in France at the moment. As for Mérienne, it's his first feature film, and he does a wonderful job. Unlike other child actors, he does not appear overly polished or cutesy. He seems like a real boy who really is very interested in tennis. What's more, Charles can actually play the game, which lends the film a realism that other sports-type movies just don't usually have. The scenes where people actually play tennis, though actually quite few in number in the film, are convincing. You really believe that this kid does have a future in tennis.
In summary, the high quality of the filmmaking and the twist at the end will leave you thinking about this movie for days to come. For a more detailed discussion of the film, please visit our eponymous web site.
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