The tandem of Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri (The Taste of Others and Look at Me) have an enviable record of attracting audiences to their civilized musings on the world and its foibles. Here they take on issues of class, race and loyalty in a droll way that has shades of Woody Allenesque humor. Watchable, well acted and eminently appealing to lovers of Gallic cinema, this title is, however, unlikely to break out.
Although Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnès Jaoui deal with serious issues they do so in such a subtle way that you barely notice. Jaoui herself plays Agathe, a fledgling politician with a strong feminist streak returning to her family home in the South to seek election.
There she renews an awkward relationship with her sister, Florence (Pascale Arbillot), and agrees to take part in a documentary for a local filmmaker, Michel (Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jaoui's co-writer and real-life partner).
His co-director (Jamel Debbouze, Days of Glory) soon begins to realize collaboration is not one of Michel's natural abilities and disasters begin to pile up.
However, Michel's intentions clearly are not what they seem, as he's having an affair with Florence and hoping to persuade her to leave her husband. Meanwhile, Karim finds his own marriage threatened when an attractive hotel co-worker, Aurélie (Florence Loiret-Caille), declares an interest in him.
There are decided elements of Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors surfacing throughout the story, however Bacri and Jaoui's assured style and droll humor are very much their own. Their view of human fallibility has a sharp edge, but Jaoui also invests it all with a worldly sense of forgiveness.
The performances are excellent, even if none of the characters are all that likeable or involving. Bacri and Debbouze make an intriguing double act. It does not quite live up to the richness of Bacri and Jaoui's previous outings and the outpourings of these chattering classes do go on a bit. This detail, however, should not deter the faithful.
Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jamel Debbouze, Pascale Arbillot, Guillaume de Tonquedec, Frédéric Pierrot and Florence Loiret-Caille
Director: Agnès Jaoui
Screenwriter: Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri
Producers: Jean-Philippe Andraca and Christian Berard
Genre: Dramedy; French-language, subtitled
Running time: 110 min.
Release date: June 18 NY