Happenstance Movie Review

Happenstance is a winsome but slight French melodrama that examines the serendipitous nature of several characters whose paths cross intermittently during a 24-hour period. Writer-director Laurent Firode weaves this quirky tale of random existential occurrences with savoir faire. However, Firode's movie feels like a series of gimmicky vignettes cobbled together for a hopefully whimsical effect. The film is cheeky and has an occasional flair for creating a chain reaction of wryly comical verve, but Happenstance ends up an atmospheric, plotless movie that masquerades as an eccentric Parisian character study of roving souls.

Of course, fate has been explored in the movies before, and Happenstance methodically moves its irreverent players around like pawns on a chess board. We get a peek at a collective bunch of free-spirits: twentysomething store clerk Irene (Audrey Tautou from Amelie) who is told that she'll meet her soulmate thanks to a horoscopic hunch, a tempermental waiter (European singing sensation Faudel), a recently employed museum security guard (Eric Feldman), a philandering husband, a bar-hopping patron, and a slew of subway riders who all experience the happenstance in question.

Happenstance is one of those colorful, wispy French comedies that likes to stroke the broad sensibilities of its playful convictions. Firode provides the mischievous mayhem, but it all becomes a tad dippy in its interpretation of philosophical flightiness.

There are a few heavy-handed scenes that try to spark some surreal edginess, but they end up missing the mark. For instance, the motif of pigeons excreting waste at will is meant to represent the shedding of one's burden. And when you have a homeless man playing the role of a park bench Confucius by spouting wisdom about what a spontaneous act can create, then you know that Firode's sense of conceptual insight is stretched a bit thin.

The film's French title Le Battement d'ailes du papillon roughly translates into "the beating of butterfly wings". And that's what the movie tries to do effortlessly -- flap itself all over the place in one motion. Alas, it meanders way too long to make its clairvoyant point. The performances are steady and reliable, particularly Tautou as the gamine working gal searching for that elusive companion and Faudel's gamy restaurant worker.

Aka The Beating of the Butterfly's Wings.

If, by chance, you encounter a razor...

Cast & Crew

Director :

Starring : , , , Iréne Ismailoff,


Omzy's picture


I thought the "whimsical effect" that the reviewer discussed was achieved quite well. The reviewer's opinion is overly critical for the sake of appearing more knowledgeable. Allow yourself to get into the movie the first time you watch it; the second time is for critique.

7 years 10 months ago
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Happenstance Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2000


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