C'est La Vie!


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

C'est La Vie
"So much is going on that Nakache and Toledano are able to slyly set-up jokes in such a way that we barely notice them, so that when they pay off their impact is greater." | Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

The latest collaboration between Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano is like a good wedding champagne - bubbly, frothy fun with an excellent structure and a hint of complexity that leaves you on a high. Not that wedding planner Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri) has any time to stop and have a glass, he's far too busy trying to ensure that the only hitch on a big day is between the bride and groom.

If things go wrong, he simply tells urges his staff to "adapt" - an instruction he's having some difficulty taking on board himself, what with his wife currently taking a break from him and his girlfriend sick of playing the other woman.

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Set over the course of one event, Nakache and Toledano prove adept at planning and crowd management, plunging us into the workings of the backstage staff and some of the wedding party without losing us in the melee. Max just wants a quiet life, but there's little chance of that considering his right-hand woman Adele (Eye Haidara) is in almost constant foul-mouthed conflict with egocentric replacement wedding singer (Gilles Lellouche), his photographer (Jean-Paul Rouve) is on the romantic prowl, with the help of his young work shadow (Gabriel Naccache), and the groom (Benjamin Lavernhe) takes over-inflation to an entirely new level.

This is just the top tier of the wedding confection created by Nakache and Toledo, who ensure that just about everything that could go wrong does while never letting things become too absurd. There's enough predictability about some of the relationships to give a frisson of anticipation for how they might make the romantic elements play out but there are also plenty of surprises. Cinematographer David Chizallet takes us weaving with characters through the party, dropping in on incidents as they happen but the main arc is never left dangling too long.

So much is going on that Nakache and Toledano are able to slyly set-up jokes in such a way that we barely notice them, so that when they pay off their impact is greater. They also leave the odd canape of social commentary lying around, if you look for it, not least that among the crew here are moonlighting coppers, off-the-books emigres and a former French teacher (Vincent Macaigne) but the dominant note is humour, the spirit barely controlled anarchy.

The cast have a blast. Bacri deadpans his way to success, while Lellouche offers a hint of silliness to the singer without over-playing it - you can still see why he gets hired - and Hélène Vincent makes the most of a cameo as the mother of the groom.

By the end, you're left with nothing to do but laugh and raise a glass to their talents.

Reviewed on: 26 Sep 2017
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A night of surprises unfolds at a wedding party in a chateau.
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Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Writer: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Eye Haidara, Gilles Lellouche, Suzanne Clément, Jean-Paul Rouve, Judith Chemla, Kévin Azaïs, Vincent Macaigne, Yves Heck, Hélène Vincent, Jackee Toto, Louis Quinn, Anthony Darche

Year: 2017

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: France

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