16 October 2010

LoFiFest 2010 Part III

LoFiFest screenings/events attended: 3
Red carpets crossed: 2
A/B List actors sighted: 6
Bars of Green & Black chocolate: 2
Clive Owen sightings: zero

I saw Guillaume Canet's film Ne le dis à personne some three years before I first read a book by Harlan Coben, the author of the novel on which the film is based, and I really enjoyed the film. And not just because Canet, who is hot, was also acting in it. Canet's next directorial project was Les petits mouchoirs (literally "hankies" but translated as "Little White Lies"), which I saw tonight as part of LoFiFest. Sadly, M. Canet was not in attendance and nor were any of the cast or crew. As the film went on for over two-and-a-half hours, this was possibly for the best. Although it was in need of a bit of script tightening to bring it down to a more reasonable length, I quite enjoyed the film. And I have to wonder whether I would say the same if an English version starring Vince Vaughan, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston were made.

Les petits mouchoirs is like a super-long episode of Friends but set in France and with characters who are slightly older--chronologically if not emotionally. At the start, Ludo, one of their number gets in a motorbike accident while wired on coke and ends up in intensive care. But the friends travel down from Paris to the seaside, near Bordeaux, every year to spend time at Max and Véro's second home and they figure that they can still go down for a couple of weeks because they won't be able to visit Ludo before then anyway. Before they leave for the beach, Vincent, married to Isa and with a six-year-old son, tells Max that although he is totally not gay, he loves Max's hands. Oh and his body. He hopes this won't make things awkward though.

Max (played by François Cluzet, who also starred as a very different type of character in Ne le dis à personne), however, is a giant control freak, unable to relax, even on holiday. When they arrive at the house, he screams into his mobile for about five minutes because someone hasn't mowed the lawn. Later, he becomes obsessed with trying to stop weasels (!) getting into the house and keeps the feed from the CCTV cameras at his hotel and restaurant playing on his laptop at all times. None of the others, including his long-suffering, eco-holic wife, Véro, can understand why Max is being such a shit to Vincent and certainly not why he takes his anger out on Vincent's son.

Then there are Eric and Marie (Marion Cotillard) who are best buddies. Eric's dancer girlfriend Léa is supposed to join them in Bordeaux but only stays long enough to dump Eric at the airport and return to Paris. Marie, who seems to be some kind of anthropologist, has revolving doors into her flat through which a constant stream of men seem to pass. Hurt, post-dumping, Eric asks why he and Marie have never slept together given that she's slept with everyone else (including Ludo, whom she dated at some point in the recent past). Marie prefers to sleep with men to whom she has no emotional connection, however, and so when one of her friends with benefits, a hot musician, drives all the way from Paris to be with her, she can't cope and sends him packing. Even though he's a really good musician. And a good shag. And really cares about her.

Finally, there is Antoine, the lovable clown, who spends most of the film pining over his ex, Juliette, analysing every word she ever said to him and debating if and how he should respond to a text she sends him. But when Eric tells him she's engaged, he can't quite believe it and the two of them take an impromptu road trip back to Paris to try to win back their women.

But despite their seemingly great lives, these people are seriously dysfunctional. When tragedy strikes again, a friend, who lives near Max and Véro's Bordeaux house, points out that they're all selfish, self-involved liars. They don't know what's important and they lie to one another and--most crucially--they lie to themselves and thus can never grow up. This all sounds quite heavy and dramatic but the script had as many laughs as an episode of Friends and the relationships between the characters felt sincere and believable. I still maintain that the film would have been tighter if it had lost about 30 minutes of the "oh look, we're a load of immature 30/40-somethings who are having a wonderful time fooling around by the sea" section but then I didn't keep checking my watch during the film either.

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