After their friend Ludo (Dujardin) is injured in a crash, his friends agonise over whether they should carry on with plans for their annual month-long holiday at the seaside. As he recovers, they head off for two weeks. But his absence causes a series of ripples. The host Max (Cluzet) is becoming increasingly paranoid due to an uncomfortable revelation made by his best pal Vincent (Magimel), while their wives (Bonneton and Arbillot) have no idea what the problem is. Meanwhile, three others (Cotillard, Lellouche and Lafitte) are trying to resolve their own romantic issues.
Filmmaker Canet throws us straight into the story, letting us immediately see these people responding to a scary event. It takes a while for the characters to reveal their personalities and complex inter-connections, but as the movie progresses they become remarkably vivid and involving. There are things about each person that we identify with, and the range of interaction is hilarious, edgy and sometimes darkly stirring.
The cast is simply wonderful, giving off-handed, natural performances that add to the film's relaxed tone. It feels almost plotless in structure, although a series of storylines carries us through the long running time with highs and lows, including raucous comedy and wrenching emotion. It's not easy to pick a stand-out among the cast, as everyone has strong moments along the way.
Cotillard's character is perhaps the most moving, while Cluzet's is the most complicated.
As it continues, Canet's fiercely clever script continually deepens the relationships and heightens the tension. It also offers intensely telling insight into the way people relate to each other, mainly looking at the small lies we tell each other - and ourselves - to get through any potential awkwardness. And while the focus is a little too diffused for us to really feel the huge wave of emotion at the end, it's still the kind of film that lingers in the memory for a long time, forcing us to explore how we treat our friends and lovers.
Production compaines: Les Productions du Trésor, M6 Films, EuropaCorp
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Director: Guillaume Canet
Producer: Alain Attal
Screenwriter: Guillaume Canet
Starring: François Cluzet as Max Cantara, Benoît Magimel as Vincent Ribaud, Jean Dujardin as Ludo, Valérie Bonneton as Véronique Cantara, Joël Dupuch as Jean-Louis, Gilles Lellouche as Eric, Laurent Lafitte as Antoine, Pascale Arbillot as Isabelle Ribaud, Anne Marivin as Juliette, Hocine Mérabet as Nassim, Louise Monot as Léa, Maxim Nucci as Franck, Marion Cotillard as Marie, Sara Martins as La copine lesbienne de Marie, Édouard Montoute as L'ami de Ludo au Baron, Mathieu Chedid as L'amant de Marie