The Players Movie Review

A series of short films and comedy sketches about male infidelity, this French film is often hilariously over-the-top in its farcical excesses. But it's also packed with moments of raw honesty as men grapple with their feelings and their failures.

The film is bookended with the wildly comical adventures of two friends who are serial cheaters: Fred (Dujardin) can separate feelings for his wife and mistresses, while Greg (Lellouche) is racked with guilt because he loves each woman. So they propose a trip to Las Vegas to get it out of their system. In other clips, Laurent (Dujardin) tries to stray while attending a conference away from home, Eric (Lellouche) struggles to cope with the partying lifestyle of his 19-year-old mistress (Ponsot), and Olivier (Dujardin) and his wife (Lamy) push each other to awkward confessions.

These shorts are separated by black-out sketches involving an embarrassing emergency room encounter, as S&M session that takes some startling turns, a philanderer trying to cover his tracks, and an Adulterers Anonymous group with a flustered leader (Kilberlain). Refreshingly, the filmmakers never pass judgement, presenting infidelity as a messy fact of life that should be avoided but isn't the end of the world. This allows the actors to create layered characters who are never villains, which is much more potent than any simplified view of right and wrong.

Dujardin and Lellouche are adept at broad comedy, squeezing every laugh out of a scene. But they're just as good as pathetic men hiding behind a hotel room door, a cocktail glass or their bustling bravado. In the opening scene, they even play with masculinity, hinting that Fred and Greg's rampant sexuality masks underlying gay tension, which they flatly deny. So when we revisit them later, the actors and filmmakers tease us right to the end.

But it's the more serious moments that linger. The Dujardin-Lamy short is painful without being preachy, and it has an immaculately observed conclusion.

Lellouche's odyssey with Ponsot takes unexpected turns on its way to a potent final shot. Each clip is skilfully made with moments of raw insight, broad comedy and, yes, sweaty sex. The overall effect is entertaining and much more thoughtful and provocative than we expect.

Cast & Crew

Director : , Fred Cavaye, Emmanuelle Bercot, Eric Lartigau Alexandre Courtes, ,

Producer : , Marc Dujardin, Eric Hannezo, Guillaume Lacroix

Starring : , , , Manu Payet, Alexandra Lamy, , Clara Ponsot,

Comments

The Players Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 18, 2012

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