The Review: Oxymoron is probably one of my favourite words in the English language. Not only for the fact that it sounds like a spot treatment for idiots, but that it also describes simply a contradiction in terms, for example “friendly fire” or “sweet sorrow”. Some might argue that “romantic comedy” is also an oxymoron, yet movies over the years have successfully made light of one of life’s most serious subjects. What has become the case over more recent years is that most makers of romantic comedies should probably be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act – even in the last three years I’ve accompanied my wife to too many films with that description that were neither funny nor truly romantic.
So what a pleasure it is to find that the romantic comedy isn’t a lost art after all. And who better to do romance than the French? This, though, is a very Anglicised French take on the modern rom-com – rights have already been snapped up, and it’s easy to guess who might fill roles in the English version. Much of the English perspective comes from the main female character, Juliette – she likes Wham records and Dirty Dancing, and has even shackled herself to Egg off of This Life (Andrew Lincoln). a model of British decorum and class (and maybe a sly comment on how the French see the British as lacking passion).
So Romain Duris’ Alex is tasked with bringing this relationship to an end, and there’s a convenient ticking clock of a wedding at the end of the week. There are other stumbling blocks as well, including the reasons Alex has to take the job and Juliette’s mysterious friend who turns up and throws several large spanners into the works. What this serves to do is to keep things moving along at a fair old rate, and also to keep the laughs coming. All the while, a believable relationship develops between Alex and Juliette, striking just the right balance between the comedic and romantic elements.
There’s bits of physical comedy, bits of slapstick and farce, Julie Ferrier as Alex’s sister gets about 100 costume changes and through all that, there’s a clear line of sight to the objective of getting the two leads together. All in all, this is as light as a small soufflé and about as deep, but it fulfills its remit admirably and should be recommended for those who like their romances with a dash of the funnies. Now to sit back and wait for that remake to be horribly ruined…
Why see it at the cinema: Lots of good laughs here that are better shared, and also lots of wonderful French scenery that you can take in at the same time.
The Score: 8/10