Film-Forward Review: [COTE D'AZUR]

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Valeria Bruni-Tedschi & Gilbert Melki
Photo: Strand

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Directed & Written by: Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau.
Produced by: Nicolas Blanc & Robert Guédiguian.
Director of Photography: Matthieu Poirot-Delpech.
Edited by: Dominique Gallieni.
Music by: Philippe Miller.
Released by: Strand.
Language: French with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: France. 90 min. Not Rated.
With: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Marc Barr, Jacques Bonnaffé Édouard Collin & Romain Torres.

In this light and amiable comedy, a French family's holiday on the Riveria makes a share in the Hamptons - or more appropriately, Fire Island - look staid and frigid in comparison. Marc (Gilbert Melki) returns for the first time in decades to a chateau, which he has inherited. It features an amazing view but limited hot water (everyone in the house needs a cold shower). His shaggy-haired 15-year-old son Charly (Romain Torres) takes the most showers; his parents have more than an idea of what he's up to while the hot water runs out. Since his sister has gone off on a sexcapade in Portugal, Charly invites his good-looking friend Martin to join his family.

After seeing the boys together, his mother Béatrix (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) mentions to Marc that the two boys must be boyfriends (but it's not just Charly who might have a secret). Of course, she's cheerfully tolerant; she's half-Dutch. So much so that according to her, teenagers are conventional. They may be, but she's not; hormones run wild, regardless of age. The parents fumble and are as impulsive as any adolescent. And like Me and You and Everyone We Know, teenage sexuality is straightforwardly and objectively portrayed.

The third act escalates into a door-slamming farce with secret rendezvous and a predictable coincidence. Unlike some other French comedies, 8 Women or the recent Isabelle Huppert vehicle Me and My Sister, Cote D'Azur never loses its balance by becoming meanspirited, even as Béatrix's live-and-let attitude is put to the test. With the assist of a French pop soundtrack and the closing, campy musical number featuring the entire ensemble, the film remains light on its feet. Its joie de vivre and laissez faire attitude make this an unmistakably French twist on family values. Kent Turner
September 9, 2005



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