Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:00 am 
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Classic Hollywood comedy, French style

Salvadori's broad cop comedy featuring Adèle Haenel of Love at First Fight/Les combattants - which made it into the Cannes Festival's Directors' Fortnight - centers on a policewoman widow, Yvonne Santi, who discovers her deceased cop husband Jean Santi (Vincent Elbaz) was more of a crook than the paragon she'd imaged and conveyed to her young son. Meanwhile Antoine (Pio Marmaï), the innocent jewelry store clerk - the only one not in on an insurance scam, who has done eight years in jail at Jean's behest, gets out and returns to his faithful wife, Agnès (Aubrey Tautou). Angry and negatively influenced by his incarcerated years (but possessed of a spirit of madcap chaos), Antoine embarks on a spree of crime and mayhem-sowing. Going to him to apologize and make up for the wrong-doing of her husband, Yvonne winds up joining Antoine in his craziness. The question is whether Antoine and Agnès can find common ground again. As for Yvonne, at the center of all this, whe's also being wooed by he longtime admirer on the force, Louis (Damien Bonnard). Everything's getting stirred up.

Salvadori told the Lincoln Center audience he was nervous about showing his movie here, because America is where he has always drawn his inspiration, Ernst Lubitsch being a prime model. On top of this Salvadori is France's premier maker of film comedies today. But will they appreciate him here? it's a fact that French comedies don't play (or translate into subtitles) as well abroad as do their romances, crime stories, or other genres. This was evident in the New York festival audience, which felt like small patches of francophone appreciators having a riotous time with large dead areas of Americans between them.

What does communicate to a wider audience is the skill with which Salvadori and his well-chosen cast weave image and action through the course of a fast-paced series of silly scenes. The bright-colored cinematography of dp Julien Poupard is a delight, obviously bolstered by some terrific set design. Notable among these is the richly adorned S&M parlor that, for some inexplicable reason, we return to repeatedly. The film begins with a violent shootout conducted by Yvonne's late husband, Jean. We soon learn that this is a mere realization of Yvonne's nighttime storytelling to her little son. This will subsequently be retold, and re-realized in action for us, with Jean depicted more realistically.

Next to a ceremony inaugurating a ridiculous statue celebrating Jean, of which according to comments after, only the pistol, brandished up in the air, resembles the man. It's when back at the police station the S&M parlor is raided, one of the the men held tells Yvonne about her husband's participation in the scam to enrich a high-end jewelry store by faking a robbery. And just about then Antoine gets out of prison and goes pretty wild, endangering himself and others. Periodically, Yvonne's bedtime story of her husband's gunfight gets retold for the kid. Everybody winds up happy in the end, somewhat fancifully since Antoine has done a lot of damage, Yvonne may have tarnished her own reputation, and Louis has shown his corrupt side. None of it matters. Comedy is forgiving.

Nominated for nine César Awards including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories.

The Trouble with You was reviewed at Cannes Directors Fortnight by Jessica Kiang in Variety and by David Rooney in Hollywood Reporter. Salvadori's In the Courtyard/Dans la court, shown in the 2015 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, was a comedy overwhelmed by downbeat material. This is a happy one; hence its placement as the Opening Night Film.

The Trouble with You/En liberté!, 108 mins., debuted in Cannes Directors Fortnight 14 May 2019 and opened in France 31 Oct. to rave reviews (AlloCiné press rating 4.3). Several other festivals. Adored by the French, this pleasant and highly accomplished piece of boisterous nonsense probably has very little future in the USA.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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