This wry and acerbic exploration of sex, romance and getting older has distinct echoes of those previous charmers by Danièle Thompson (Jet Lag, Avenue Montaigne). Here she plays on the coincidences of the French drawing room comedy, updated with rock ‘n' roll and cell phones. It should have wide appeal for sophisticated audiences who relish such escapades as The Big Chill and Peter's Friends, all wrapped up with that certain something that is just so Français.
Plenty of directors have used a dinner among friends as a catalyst for unleashing criss-crossing emotions. Danièle Thompson and her son Christopher (who also takes one of the roles as a hotshot attorney) serve up the familiar formula with a fresh twist in what is an honorable French tradition.
The summer dinner party unites ten acquaintances each of which tries to hide his and her own personal troubles from the group. The masks, of course, fall with alarming rapidity over an evening of food and wine, and the bonds of friendship see strain as a result. Most of the couples on parade come to reveal unhappiness with their respective partners, and they are either involved with someone else or have plans for assignations.
The aftermath of such soul bearing has a lasting impact on all. Each of the 11 lead actors, including Dany Boon (Welcome to the Sticks, Micmacs), Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Karin Viard (Paris) and Marina Hands (Lady Chatterley) gets a turn to act silly or poignant, sympathetic or callous, as their characters struggle with careers, affairs, health, not to mention the Paris traffic.
The Thompsons have a tough task to explain all the machinations in the film's first half but once the scene is set it unravels in an entertaining way, jumping forward a year--but always with flashbacks to that infamous dinner party.
Confirmed Francophiles, lovers of upscale humor and those with European leanings will be completely seduced.
Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Karin Viard, Dany Boon, Patrick Bruel, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marina Hands, Marina Foïs, Christopher Thompson and Pierre Arditi
Director: Danièle Thompson
Screenwriters: Danièle Thompson and Christopher Thompson
Producers: Christine Gozlan and Alain Terzian
Running time: 100 min
Release date: August 27 NY