Cést la Vie It’s Juliet Naked

There’s no nudity to be had here – just letting you know.

A French offering at the State, ‘Cést la Vie’ has an impressive pedigree coming, as it does, from the makers of ‘The Intouchables’. Their new product isn’t, sadly, in the same league, but it’s still a feel good attraction, popular in its homeland and a worth a look-see from those of us enamoured of the film industry from the nation that has been a major innovator. Max, played by audience favourite Jean-Pierre Baci, is a wedding wrangler. When he takes charge of the nuptials, with his motley crew in a massive chateau, well then a disaster or two can be expected. His cause isn’t help by his off-sider (Suzanne Clément) also being his love interest. She’s none to happy that she cannot disentangle him from his missus. Then, as the wedding progresses, to add another element to the mix, the bride decides that one of said crew is a much better prospect than hubby to be. How will Max steer the ship through these very dangerous waters?

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This movie does keep you entertained enough for you to remain in your seat as everything goes pear-shaped. We expect, though, that someone will eventually step up to the plate and save the day, but it is hard to imagine just who is capable of doing so from the wedding party or its servants. JeanPaul Rouve does an engaging turn as the exasperating official photographer and Benjamin Lavernhe stands out from the other supports revelling in his role the obnoxious groom. No wonder she preferred the other fellow. But the overall package is slight, doesn’t really gel and certainly will not linger.

Now, from across the Channel, ‘Juliet Naked’ has had a bit of a rough time with the critics but, for me, anything with Nick Hornby’s imprint on it is worth a gander. I enjoyed the novel and to my mind the film does do it justice. Rose Byrne is quite luminous as Annie, a woman frustrated beyond belief with her middle aged dick of a boyfriend, Duncan. Played by Chris O’Dowd (so brilliant in roles such as ‘The IT Crowd’, ‘The Sapphires’ and more recently, the superb ‘Get Shorty’ on Stan), here he’s obsessed with reclusive (in a Rodriguez sort of way) American warbler Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). Through a series of unlikely events Annie is mysteriously sent a tape of his, in Duncan’s view, classic album ‘Juliet’- in unplugged format, thus the ‘Naked’ of the title. The fallout from this, and the singer’s resultant visit, virtually means their tenuous relationship is all but over.

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With both the Easybeats and the Kinks in the soundtrack, there is much to like from this Jesse Peretz helmed UK effort. Perhaps it is a tad predictable, mining the stereotypes associated with small town England without shame. Byrne is definitely the star turn in all of that. With O’Dowd we have have seen it all before and he does become somewhat wearing, but Hawke is okay as the woebegone singer. The long line of progeny he has already produced would make him, you would think, a no go area, but Annie is unfazed. This offering lacks the spark to set it apart, but it was a comfortable’, cruisy way to spend part of a winter’s afternoon. I came away humming ‘Waterloo Sunset’. That’s no bad thing.

Trailer for ‘Cést la Vie’ =  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErV26mIdEvU

Trailer for ‘Juliet Naked’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjSNkAaABs