Sunday, 6 September 2020

Après Vous (After You)

A beautifully delivered romantic comedy/farce which the French just seem to do so well. A well-crafted story full of quirky and interesting characters in near-absurd situations as they unravel the ins-and-outs of ordinary life mixed up with disaster, hope, joy and fun wrapped up, of course, in a love-triangle!

Writer/Director Pierre Salvadori, who later penned the fabulous Priceless (Hors de Prix) in 2006, delivers the mix with style and class, bringing out the best from the excellent cast. Daniel Auteuil (Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources, The Widow of Saint-PierreUn Coeur en Hiver) is Antoine who is maître d' at a posh Paris eatery and living with his girlfriend who has designs on a wedding ring. He's late leaving for home one night and cuts through the park, where he stumbles on a stranger Louis trying to hang himself from a tree. José Garcia (Now You See Me, Bastille Day) is Louis who is suffering after a split with the woman who is clearly the love of his life.

Antoine starts to go to ludicrous lengths to get Louis back on his feet, turning his life, pretty much, over to the project! He risks everything for this man, including his own relationship, professional reputation, money and belongings. We're never quite clear why he should make such rash decisions, except, as he says, it's the decent thing to do! He can't seem to say 'no' to anyone. He tries to get Louis' love to think again, but in doing so falls for her himself, and she, him. Enter the love-triangle!

The centre of the love triangle is the flower-girl Blanche, who is played delightfully by the unknown to me but hugely experienced French actress Sandrine Kiberlain. Things go from bad to worse in a Woody Allen type way as the players dance around one absurd situation after the next, chase dreams, u-turn in cul-de-sacs and leave the audience smiling and wincing throughout!

This is just a lot of fun - a good film for a rainy bank holiday afternoon which puts many English-speaking romantic comedies to shame because, well, I say it again, the French just seem to do better than anyone else. It's full of really likeable and charming characters and actors. Nobody puts a foot wrong and the setting is so typically French throughout feeding the Paris middle-class stereotype. The only thing missing is Audrey Tautou! Don't miss it when it comes round!

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