Thursday 1 July 2010


The new film starring Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis is out this weekend.
More after the jump...

Ladies man Alex Lippi (Romain Duris) frees women from bad relationships. For a price he can be hired to intervene if your friend, sister or daughter has got herself caught in a loveless engagement, using his charms to help them see that they can do better in life, and not settle down with the man they are currently with. He doesn't sleep with them, but plants a seed of doubt that will make then see that they can do better. When Alex is hired by a rich businessman to stop his daughter Juliette's impending marriage, he goes undercover as her bodyguard in an attempt to seduce her and also pay off his loan shark debts. Alex and Juliette have an immediate dislike for one another, but when they start to feel an attraction, Alex must put his own feelings aside and pull out all the stops to make sure the wedding doesn't go ahead and that he still gets paid.

Romain Duris has fast become one of France's best leading men, but so far he has kept away from romantic comedies. I suppose you could argue that Pot Luck is a romantic comedy of sorts, but he's definitely more well known for his work in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Moliere and Dans Paris. He's given the opportunity to goof around a bit here, ably encapsulating the roguish charm of this character. Alex dances to Dirty Dancing, he sings along to Wham, all to further his chances with Juliette. He just didn't expect to enjoy himself so much.

Of course an operation like this cannot be ran by one man, so Alex has his sister and brother in law to help him on the cons. They use all manner of technology to make sure Alex can seduce these women and they can remain undetected. They're both somewhat bumbling and ineffectual spies, but offer Alex enough opportunities to get the girl. They organise car-jackings and faulty sprinkler systems, all to bring the two closer together. This crackpot duo provide a lot of the films broader comedic moments, but don't seem out of place.

One of the best characters in the film is its Monaco setting. It has the lush beaches and hillside roads that convey a sense of glamour, like a secret romance mecca the French are letting us in on. This location was also used to great effect by Priceless; another impressive French romantic comedy from a couple of years ago.

I'm not too familiar with Vanessa Paradis' work in film. She's more recognisable to me as Johnny Depp's other half, but she's a very likable leading lady. The romance between Juliette and Alex is a familiar one; early destain leads to finding common ground which leads to confusing thoughts, but it brings with it a few different elements. Firstly, that there's nothing wrong with Juliette's English fiance Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln).

You expect the largely absent fiance to be a real bastard, so the door is open for Alex to swoop in and save her. But despite her fathers worries, there's no skeleton's hidden in Jonathan's closet, who's a genuinely nice guy in love with his daughter. But he is a dull Englishman, and can offer her nowhere near the same drama or excitement as the rugged Frenchman. This is where the Gallic charm steps in and the conclusion becomes obvious. Alex is a dirty dancing rotten scoundrel, and can offer Juliette the romance that she has always dreamed of, just as long as she can accept his failings.

Although I'd definitely recommend this to people, I would say that this was aimed at a demographic slightly older than me. Chock full of references to Dirty Dancing, George Michael and Wham, this is ideal for those who grew up in the 80's. It is largely a chick flick, but guys will find enough laughs in it to remain interested.

I really hope we don't see a joyless Hollywood remake of this set in the Hamptons in a couple of years. This is steeped in Gallic charm that rises it above its somewhat formulaic story. It's a funny, sexy, thoroughly charming comedy.


1 comment:

  1. Nice review, thanks. Duris is one of my favourite actors after his stunning work in The Beat That My Heart Skipped. I'm curious to see how he handles this change of pace/genre. Unfortunately the remake rights have already been bought.