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I agree--This is the French "Big Chill"
on August 2, 2013
Guillaume Canet is an excellent actor, writer and director (BTW: is Patrick Dempsey his brother?? or twin!) While the direction here is solid, Canet's story is hackneyed. I enjoy the more commercial French movies as well as the, shall we say cinematic and intellectual French films. So, I gave this one a try. This is clearly an ensemble piece with previous Canet collaborators (Cluzet, Cotillard, DeJardin, et al) all veterans, and each delivers a good performance. Yet, the story is predictable and the premise, somewhat of a stretch--would you really go on vacation leaving a dear, close friend on the verge of death, on his own with no one, NO ONE to care for him? C'mon, man! Not even an enemy would do that and these folks claimed to be "friends." While we all question from time to time the trustworthiness of even our closest friends, these folks take it to a whole other nadir. Beyond this premise, there are few surprises or new twists, both in terms of the story and the lessons learned. Moreover, the way in which those lessons are illustrated on the screen don't offer much that is unique or even different. Francois Cluzet is kinda lovable as the irascible and difficult kingpin of the group. The character "Jean-Louis" is just too self-righteous and preachy in the end, to even take seriously. Yet, there are fine performances. But again the content, i.e., story has been told many times in movies like Big Chill, et al, and they actually do it better. Four Weddings and Funeral is another in this genre that hits all the right notes. Also, take a look at Loose Cannons. This Italian ensemble piece about a family's dysfunction and coming to terms with individuals in the family is marvelously acted and tells a great story of being yourself and making whatever sacrifice is necessary to do so, even in the face of family and social pressures to be something else. RENT IT! "Loose Cannon."