Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Charlotte Gainsbourg & Yvan Attal
Photo: Kino

Directed & Written by: Yvan Attal.
Produced by: Claude Berri.
Director of Photography: Rémy Chevrin.
Edited by: Jennifer Augé.
Released by: Kino.
Language: French with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: France. 100 min. Not Rated.
With: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvan Attal, Alain Chabat, Emmanuelle Seigner & Alain Cohen.

Married men Vincent (Yvan Attal) and Georges (Alain Chabat) listen rapt and envious at the exploits of Fred (Alain Cohen), an unassuming pick-up artist. Not at all conventionally good looking, Fred has daily conquests (with Giovanna or Marie, he can’t remember). Unbeknownst to his friends, Vincent has a secret - a girlfriend on the side. Returning to his home after spending a night with her, Vincent sheepishly lies to his wife Gabrielle (Attal’s real-life wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg), telling her he crashed at a friend’s. She perceives the truth all too well. Just when the mood turns serious and she’s about to confront him, they both act up rather than face the truth, removing all the food from the refrigerator and squaring off at the kitchen table. They scream throughout the ensuing food fight while their son sleeps in the next room. They’re so bourgeois they aren’t the least concern about staining the immaculate white walls of their Paris apartment. Gabrielle, though, certainly gives consideration to her marriage. In a tense, almost dialogue-free interaction, she trades furtive glances with a handsome stranger (Johnny Depp), while listening to the same song at a Virgin Megastore. Also making a cameo appearance is the serene Anouk Aimée.

Scenes of impressive subtlety and thoughtfulness centering around the pensive Gabrielle are overshadowed by the antics of the middle-aged men. Their constant kidding around weighs the film down. Throughout, there is a frustrating lack of self-awareness among them. Vincent, at times, is overbearing. He has the annoying habit of announcing his arrival home by approaching his wife from behind and scaring the daylights out of her. And while at the movies, he’s hushed for talking loudly by a fellow patron. He angrily insists that the man first say please. Unlike director/writer’s Attal’s feature debut, My Wife is an Actress, Happily Ever After digresses; there’s a sense it doesn’t know how to end. But refreshingly, the film contradicts its own title - it doesn’t cut corners by offering clear-cut resolutions. Kent Turner
April 8, 2005



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