Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shall we kiss?

A woman doesn't want to kiss at the end of a casual dinner with a complete stranger. So what?

In NZ that is probably considered quite normal, but in France it is something to make a film about. So Emilie spends an hour and half explaining the dangers of a kiss to Gabriel. Luckily for us she does it with an entertaining story about best friends and confidants: Judith and Nicolas. Emilie hastily explains that she is not Judith, just another friend of hers.

Judith is happily married whereas Nicolas confesses that he feels starved of physical female affection since he and his previous girlfriend broke up. In response to Judith's initial suggestion he claims that he can't start a new relationship while in his current condition. To her more round about suggestion that he visit a prostitute, he confesses that he tried that earlier in the day but she didn't allow kissing. He wants the package deal: sex and kissing to cure him, so that he can go out and get a girlfriend. Finally he gets to the point: will Judith, as his best friend, help him out?

The scenes that follow are the comic high point of the film and reactions of the women in the audience at the Embassy show the director hit just the right note. I'm sure his directions to the actors were "forget you are French, pretend you are British".

Of course the story of Judith and Nicolas couldn't end there. There has to be consequences. Which eventually brings Emilie to the point of her story.

The classic romance of the charming Emilie and suave Gabriel (who can ignore their absent partners for an evening) contrasts with the increasingly farcical story of Judith and Nicolas. The film cuts backwards and forwards between the romantic present and the farce of the inner story as if to emphasis the difference between perfection of romance and messiness of reality.

Writer and director Emmanuel Mouret plays the buttoned up, neurotic Nicolas in a role which is the corner stone performance in the film, against which Virginie Ledoyen plays the desirable but uptight best friend Judith with an admirably straight bat. The sound track includes some of the best known bits of Tchaikovsky's and Schubert's music. The way they have been selected to underlie the mood of each scene, fits well with this story within a story.

Emilie starts telling the story in the car park, ending it in her hotel room with Gabriel, where she still has to face the dilemma of a goodbye kiss. Was she really trying to convince him of the dangers of kissing or was it all foreplay to build the potential kiss into an event to remember?

Ian's rating 4/5

Anne's rating 3/5

Friday, February 13, 2009

Baby Love

No outings to the movies since Quantum of Solace and then two in an evening! The French Film Festival is on which is a good opportunity to get to see something at the Embassy and last night was a good opportunity to get out of the rain. The first of last night's offerings was Baby Love -a light-hearted look at gay adoption and surrogate motherhood. I hesitate to say its a comedy as the subject matter is pretty heavy but while it's probably partly intended to make you think its principal purpose is to entertain.

Baby love features Manu, a 42 year-old gay paediatrician (possessor of the most astonishing nose in France) who wants a baby and his partner Philippe (possessor of the second-most astonishing nose in France) who does not. The desire to breed precipitates the end of the relationship and elevates a chance encounter with an Argentinian overstayer into a marriage of convenience.

The ramifications of this scenario are explored in detail. How do you have a baby if you're gay and your sperm is defective? What do you do if your wife of convenience ends up fancying you? What do you do if she changes her mind about having a baby? What do you if having had sex with one woman, other women get ideas?

While this is mostly quite amusing it raises a lot of other questions, like is giving up a child for adoption almost bound to do the mother's head in and should any reasonable person ask that of her? Is the experience of witnessing a birth enough to convert the determined non-parent into enthusiastic parent in the space of hours?

I didn't think Baby Love fulfilled either of it's intentions well enough - it wasn't funny enough and not thought provoking enough to be particularly memorable.

Anne's rating 2.5/5 Ian's rating 2/5