Sunday, May 6, 2012

Four French Comedies

Many of the things in life that I enjoy the most were ones that I stumbled on.  They were there when I was looking for something else.  Is that true for you?  These new things went on to change what I was looking for.  Over the past two years or so I have stumbled on four French comedies that made me feel so good I want to share the pleasure.  Don't let your hang-ups about subtitles or notions of French movies deter you from considering these movies, especially if you like to laugh and can appreciate some subtleties.

The first was The Valet.  I had actually seen two of the cast members before--Kristin Scott Thomas was known for The English Patient and Daniel Autieul I had seen in a French drama, Jean de Florette," I very much enjoyed.  I learned from the director's commentary that Kristin Scott Thomas had married a French doctor and split her time between English and French scripts.  The star was Gad Elmaleh who was very good at playing a lovable loser who of course gets the girl in the end, but has a very interesting side trip along the way.  In this film you like most of the characters, but not so much the one played by Daniel Auteuil, nevertheless he makes it work.

The second was Priceless.  Audrey Tautou was as I said in another blog "priceless"  But she was only half of the stars.  My previously discovered Gad Elmaleh shared top billing, playing a nervy ordinary hotel worker.  The two were wonderful together, mis-fitted in the beginning, then rivals with some friendly coaching, then finally what you were hoping for.  Basically you like the main characters and hope they can see the value in one another.

"I do" (prete-moi ta main) wasn't what I was looking for.  The writeups seemed interesting.  One of the stars I had seen recently in a totally differently role.  Charlotte Gainsbourg had played a mother in an Australian movie, called "The Tree."  Here she played a totally different character and very well.  Alain Chabat played a typical happy bachelor avoiding any thoughts of marriage.  His family plays a key role in the movie as his mother and sisters spoil him, but at one point demand he get married so his wife can do all the things that spoil him.  He schemes to fool them hiring the sister of a business associate who schemes to get as much money for the venture as possible.  The idea is the family will like the chosen one, but she will dump him. You know how it is going to end (actually it is very funny and a twist on the beginning), but there are lots of laughs and plot twists along the pathway.

A more recent movie with a lot of laughs was "Heartbreaker" with Romain Duris and Johnny Depp's wife Vanessa Paradis.  Romain had a reputation as a serious actor and I had never seen Vanessa before but both were impressive in a comedy.  Romain plays a character that specializes in breaking up relationships with the help of his sister and her husband.  They are very slick, but of course they eventually run into a situation where the hero gets emotionally involved.  You will also appreciate that Johnny Depp has excellent taste.  A character who played a sort of buffoon brother in law in "Heartbreaker" is the leading man, opposite a favorite of mine, Audrey Tautou. in a movie I look forward to seeing, 'Delicacy"

I am looking forward to discovering more French comedies.  These are all relatively in good taste, but very clever.  When you suspend your skepticism that is normal when watching a movie your intelligence is not insulted and you will just glide along.  At least I did.

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