A Man in a Hurry
Fabrice Luchini, Rebecca Marder, Leila Bekhti, Igor Gotesman, Clemence Massart
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Light, frothy and untaxing on the brain…
Alain (Fabrice Luchini) is a no-nonsense CEO of a large car manufacturer. He has what they call the gift of the gab, being able to rouse up a boardroom like no one else in the business. His career comes with a price including alienating co-workers and playing absent father to his daughter, Julia (Rebecca Marder). Suffering two large strokes in one day, Alain wakes up in hospital to discover that he’s forgotten how to use the French language. He knows exactly what he wants to say but can’t choose the right words to say it. He says some words backwards, replaces other words with similar sounding ones and will even greet a room with a cheery ‘Au revoir’.
Like Eddie Murphy in 1000 Words or Jim Carrey in Liar Liar, A Man in a Hurry follows an extremely formulaic narrative which sees him lose everything in order to regain everything. Unable to embrace his mother tongue like he used to, Alain struggles to keep his head above water in the cut throat world of car design. Conversely, his relationship with his daughter has a chance to blossom now that he’s vulnerable. And of course, there’s always time for another vaudevillian spoonerism.
It’s all so very breezy that it’s extremely easy to miss the moments of pathos that dot the linguistic landscape. Alain’s twisted tongue also comes with a patchy memory and the film makes moments of comedy – in which Alain learns about what kind of man he was – into something more poignant when he has to be reminded that his wife passed away. Later, an eloquent speech given by Alain is soon revealed to be nonsense in the ears of his audience. Sadly, these moments resonate, but they’re few and far between.
Confusingly, the film chooses to take a break from Alain every now and then so we can focus on his speech therapist, Jeanne (Leila Bekhti) and her search for her real mother. It’s an odd storyline that feels better suited to a completely different film and suggests wanting to give a little more backstory to one of the main characters in Alain’s life. However, once a further subplot about her romance with a hospital porter is tagged on, it starts to feel like we’re just padding out the screenplay.
That’s not say that as a final product, A Man in a Hurry is a bad film. Luchini is well known in France for his showmanship. Playing his wordplay completely straight adds a touch more depth to the comedy than he would have gurning and winking at the camera – hello Mr Carrey. Luchini plays his own straight man and it’s all for the benefit of the film.
Light, frothy and untaxing on the brain, A Man in a Hurry will make you wish you could speak French so you could really appreciate the wordplay without the aid of subtitles.