Based on the true story of an unlikely odd couple who give each other a new lease on life, this French comedy-drama is almost irresistibly engaging. So it's no wonder that it's taken the international box office by storm, becoming the most successful French film in history. Thankfully, its sparky sense of humour keeps the heartwarming story from becoming too sentimental. And the cast is enormously likeable.
It's about Philippe (Cluzet), a wealthy Parisian who can't cope with the way everyone condescends to him as a paraplegic. Which makes hiring a full-time carer very difficult until he sees the inexperienced tough guy Driss (Sy), who only applies for the job to satisfy one of the conditions of collecting his unemployment benefit. But Driss' quick wit and lack of pity appeal to Philippe, who hires him against the wishes of his minders (Le Ny and Fleurot). And sure enough, Driss doesn't fit in at all. But his growing friendship with Philippe earns the respect of the staff.
The central theme here is that compassion, friendship and honesty are often far more important than experience and efficiency. But this is never laid on too heavily in a film that concentrates instead on an unexpected relationship that deepens as these two men confront each others' weaknesses. This is often awkward and uncomfortable, but along the way Driss helps Philippe come out of his self-exile, while Philippe gives Driss the self-confidence he needs to get his life back on track. And Cluzet and Sy have such terrific chemistry that we never get tired of watching them bicker and fight even as they make each other (and us) laugh.
Continue reading: Untouchable [aka The Intouchables] Review
This French dramatic comedy film tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a Senegalese young offender who, under the rules of the work based project he has been put on, applies to be his live-in carer but only to get a signature to say he went to the interview. Philippe hires the young man, Driss, based on his physical strength and forthright attitude, and despite their very opposite backgrounds and the warnings given to Philippe by his staff the pair embark on several adventures together.
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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.
Continue reading: Little White Lies [Les Petits Mouchoirs] Review
For years it's been tradition for Max and his friend to take a yearly holiday at his beach house, this year is set to be no different until one of the group is seriously injured in a car crash. The group of old friends visit the injured Ludo in hospital and decide that they should still go ahead with their trip.
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The story is as threadbare as something that might have been conceived over bottomless goblets of wine at 3am in a smoke-filled Montmartre jazz club. Francis Borler (François Cluzet) is absolutely obsessed with sax player Dale Turner (real-lilfe musician Dexter Gordon), to the point where he leaves his pre-teen daughter at home and spends his nights sitting outside clubs in the rain while Dale plays his sax inside.
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Unfolding with fecund ripeness in a long and languorous day and evening in the French countryside, where some siblings and their respective others share a meal and sharp-edged conversation at the old family house, the film plays with the notion of barely-concealed secrets and a hint of rottenness. When Alex Beck (Francois Cluzet) chases his wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze) through a forested pathway lined with lushly blooming flowers, the scene is romantic but weighted with death -- it wouldn't surprise you to find out that the soil was so rich due to bodies being buried there. Like the childhood sweethearts they once were, Alex and Margot swim playfully in a small pond and then coil up naked in the warm night air on a floating raft. She goes ashore; there are sounds of a struggle. Alex, panicked, swims for the dock only to get whacked unconscious by an unseen assailant.
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Judging by the title and the con-game setup, we're on alert for twists from the very beginning: Betty (Isabelle Huppert) is seen with an obvious mark at a casino. Soon she's got him back in his hotel room, drugged, and lets in an older man who's been watching the pair. He turns out to be her partner Victor (Michel Serrault), and they take 1/3 of the mark's money (not so much that he'd miss it) and vanish back to their RV. These guys are small time and they know it. Nothing wrong with that, but while planning their next move, Betty decides to take a vacation. She and Victor reconnect a few weeks later at a mountain resort, and she's apparently got another swindle going with a wealthy man carrying 5 million Swiss francs in an attache case. Obviously Betty's going to make a play for it, but is Victor going to be in on the deal too? Or is he going to try to nab it all for himself?
Continue reading: The Swindle Review
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Redeeming the genre from last week's dismal While You Were Sleeping, Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline manage to deliver hilarious and surprisingly touching performances in French Kiss. Ryan plays Kate, a seriously neurotic woman who takes the phrase "obsessive-compulsive" to new lows. Charlie (Timothy Hutton) is Kate's fiancee, an up-and-coming doctor who, when Kate is too afraid to board the airplane, takes a week-long business trip to Paris alone.
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Isabelle Huppert stars as Marie, an obviously oppressed housewife whose husband is off at war. Marie dreams of things far beyond possibility -- she lives in occupied France yet wants to be a professional singer -- but nothing is worse than the arrival of her husband (François Cluzet) back from the war, suffering from shell shock. This isn't a happy homecoming. This merely means another person to feed on limited rations -- and one who soils his shorts repeatedly.
Continue reading: Story Of Women Review
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