Sunday, March 11, 2018

“C’est la vie!”– Movie Review


This weekend, I attended the French Film Festival at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center and saw the U.S. Premiere of the comedy “C’est la vie!


When an event planner coordinates his last wedding, can he get things back on track when one catastrophe after another hits? 


Max has owned and operated his event planning business for decades, but this one grand event will be his last.  While he’s experienced, capable and professional, his staff does not always follow his lead.  Despite the fact that he has worked hard to make his business successful, he now feels that he’s had enough and has begun looking into selling the business to someone else so he can finally take some time off and relax; his employees, however, have no idea that this change is coming.  But his final wedding will not be an easy send-off. 

For one thing, his wait staff is rebelling against him; since the event is taking place at an 18th century mansion, the waiters are being required to wear garments of that era – including powdered wigs which smell.  With their protests falling on deaf ears, Max concerns himself with other matters, including the band that’s been hired to play the wedding.  While they rehearse the numbers they plan on playing that evening, Max becomes aware of the fact that the band’s lead singer can’t sing – which might be problematic. 

Another problem is the unwanted photographer Max has foisted upon his clients, against their objections.  Although he is a long-time associate of Max, this wedding photographer has become something of a dinosaur in this age of cell phones that are perfectly capable of taking high quality pictures.  But Max is experiencing something of a personal problem, too.  Josiane, his associate, confidante and girlfriend, has threatened to leave Max if he does not finally break up with his wife.  With utter chaos surrounding him on the eve of a pending sale, can Max somehow successfully pull off one last wedding before he retires?        


Whether you regard “C’est la vie!” as a frisson of gags or a soufflé of sheer silliness, this is a delightfully farcical comedy for which the French have long been expert.  From the start where one of the servers is wearing pajamas to the end where he’s headed home on foot while simultaneously arguing grammar with a fellow waitron, this impeccably plotted comedy has been brilliantly offered up by the same directorial team that gave us the art house hit, “The Intouchables”.  For those in the mood for a raucous lark on the light side, this will hit the spot perfectly.

The jokes in this movie are relentless; the screenwriters (who directed their own script) are able to wring one twist after another out of every character and every situation, giving the audience plenty of surprises and scenes you won’t see coming.  While it is ultimately Max’s story, it’s the craft of this ensemble cast that pulls it off expertly.  In some cases, the comic timing can be attributed to the actors and in other cases to the editing; either way, the filmmakers manage to pull it off perfectly.  There are so many truly excellent lines and visuals that sharing even one would ruin the experience. 

Despite all of the comedy, there is plenty of heart in “C’est la vie!”, too.  There is the matter of Max’s collapsing marriage and his affair with one of his employees, as well as the dwindling career of his photographer.  It also touches somewhat on immigrants and their ability (or lack thereof) to assimilate into the new society in which they find themselves.  One interesting thing about this movie is that at almost two full hours, it is unusually long for a comedy, especially one as fast-paced as this.  Usually, comedies of this nature come in at around an hour and a half – but this is so good, you won’t have time to look at your watch.   

C'est la vie! (2017) on IMDb

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