Directed by Pascal Chaumeil. Starring Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, François Damiens.
This 2010 French film/farce did quite well at the box office and has even been acquired by an American production company to be remade. But that one probably won’t have the reckless wit and slapstick charm that this one has.
Though this movie would be better watched in French with English subtitles, some of us have to watch its dubbed version. One would have thought they’d have dispensed with this archaic form of language translation in movies but apparently not. It sort of reminds you of those old Kung Fu movies that were dubbed (usually quite badly but hey, the actions spoke louder), which we watched as kids. Some of the charm of the film probably gets lost in translation (subtitles would have worked better) but if you’re okay watching a ridiculous caper about a guy who gets paid to break up couples by seducing the women into thinking that the guy they’re with isn’t really ‘the one’, then you’re in for a fun ride; well a stupid fun one anyway.
Romain Duris plays Alex, who along with his sister Melanie (Julie Ferrier) and her husband Marc (François Damiens) run a dating agency with a twist. Overprotective parents, siblings or well-wishers can hire their services to break up the relationship of a loved one with someone they deem unworthy for their near and dear. The gang in A-Team/Mission Impossible style set up elaborate ruses to trick unwitting girlfriends and fiancees into falling in love or at least lust with Alex and thereby make them question their current ‘romance’. The deed done sans actually sleeping with the girl (as they have ethics), Alex gets a hefty fee and a relationship probably doomed to destroy itself is averted.
And then comes along Juliette’s (Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Depp’s Mrs) father who doesn’t want her to marry the flawless Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln) because daddy knows his girl will be bored to death with the ol’ chap for the rest of her life (can you imagine an American version dad like this? I think not). So Alex poses as her bodyguard even though his target couple seem to be quite happy (he has a gambling debt to pay off) but finds that Juliette is a pretty tough nut to crack. Speaking of nuts, the whole team and cast are cuckoo. The slapstick is there but never slaps you in the face too hard so that you’re tickled suitably but not outraged.
You can bet an American remake will find some pretty young things to play the parts. While Romain and Vanessa are suitably good looking they’re certainly not drop dead gorgeous but that just adds to the film’s awkward charm. Yes the end is completely formulaic and you can trust America to copy that with a good dose of extra powdered sugar to boot.