1809, France. Captain Neuville is called to the front, leaving his future bride heartbroken. Her sister decides to write letters on his behalf to cheer her up. But it all goes south when Neuville reappears.
In a small town, crushed by the heat of summer, in 1919, a war hero was held prisoner in a deserted barracks. In front of the door, his whipped dog barks day and night. Not far away, in the... See full summary »
Excessively schmaltzy mishmash of clichés - is photography Normandy's salvation?!
François Cluzet is a highly reliable and even gifted actor, as demonstrated in LES INTOUCHABLES, MEDECIN DE CAMPAGNE, and LA MECANIQUE DE L'OMBRE, among others. But he cannot carry this film on his own, especially when he is so insufficiently aided by a cast of unknowns who were probably hired locally.
Suffice it to say that the most imaginative - and funny - scene in the whole film is the opening sequence, where a character we do not see again gets out of his camping tent, starts urinating and realizes that he is smack bang in the middle of a nudity camp.
There are many subplots, mostly meaningless fillers, but perhaps the most baffling is one about a fellow who has an agency in Paris but decides to move to the country, with a daughter who doubles up as narrator with a vandalistic graffiti streak who keeps spraying "à poil" (get naked) on the windows of a former local beauty competition winner; he starts suffering from respiratory problems prompted by allergies but he remains adamant that he wants to stay in the country; in the end, completely unexpectedly and after all manner of illness and other shortcomings as a result of his alleged desire to live in nature, he admits that he is dying to get back to Paris. So narrator and he fly by helicopter to Paris while the wife stays for the communal photograh in stark nudity... huh?!
The inevitable feud over a land claim also rears its head, the land claimer even threatens others with a gun, but the whole issue is so amiably settled that you know you're watching a fairy tale.
As if that were not dire enough, two "Americans" (they sound British, but this is a French film for French audiences) turn up and one of them has earned a reputation out of photographing naked crowds. Cluzet, as the mayor, first opposes it, then seems to think that it is an opportunity to show the plight of local cattle farmers... but some locals oppose it, including the former beauty contest winner's jealous husband, who brandishes a big kitchen knife but is ultimately as harmless as he is fat.
Cluzet gets his pièce de resistance in a scene in which he fakes suicide by hanging, but it is embarrassingly poorly done, followed by adult men throwing hay at each other. Huh?!
And so it goes on, right up to the utterly wayward and mendacious ending, which suggests that Normandy's fate hangs on a nude photo.
Two minor saving graces: pleasant landscape photography and good use of local colloquial language, giving the film a credible rural feel.
Sadly, direction, plot and script all oscillate between uninspired and amateurish. I could not wait for the end and left feeling annoyed that I had paid to watch such childish stuff.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this