Jed (Hugh Bonneville) prepares to interview French filmmaker and self-appointed expert on the nature of love - Thierry Grimandi (Erica Cantona). The worldly and somewhat jaded Jed is dead-set on dismissing the auteur's musings as pompous and, well French, until his own relationship with Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton) starts to fall apart and he is forced to re-evaluate the illusive subject. Soon everyone is talking about love.
Jed is a writer, a failed novelist as his girlfriend calls him, who hates the French (the reason for this is never really clearly defined, just some lazy bit of characterisation of a typical British man presumably). After 10 years with his girlfriend he proposes only to be rejected and then forced to go to counselling. As if being patronised by Grimandi about love is not enough their relationship counsellor is also a Frenchman that gets Jed’s back up before they even begin.
Jed’s best mate Marcus (Douglas Henshall) is settled with Sophie (Anne Marie Duff) who “saved his life”, however, a chance encounter with his first true love (guess what, she is French, they seem to have the monopoly on love in this film), starts to question love itself and what he really feels and for whom. This film is about 2 couples in crisis and the nature of love as it really is and how we think it should be.
It has some interesting devices; we watch Grimandi mostly on the TV in Jed’s room as well as clips from his films that are little parodies of how French films are perceived to be. The soundtrack makes use also of classic “French” music or again as we think of it. Unfortunately, the writer has done a particularly lazy job; on the one hand there are some revelatory remarks about love and long term relationships which really ring true and on the other it is all wrapped up in some sort of blustering middle class xenophobia.
Somewhere in the 88 minutes of this film there is a great film struggling to break free. Perhaps more could have been made of the idea of films reflecting life and life reflecting films; the idea that if life were only like a film everyone would know what was going to happen next this could be a better film. It is however, a sweet enough film. There are no great shocks but will leave you with a bit of a warm glow inside. And apparently love is sepia, who knew?
French Film is out on DVD from Feb. 7th and is released by Revolver Entertainment. The DVD contains interviews with the cast as well as a behind the scenes featurette.
Review by Coco Banjo