Year:  2017

Director:  Carine Tardieu

Rated:  M

Release:  December 26, 2017

Distributor: Palace

Running time: 100 minutes

Worth: $17.00
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François Damiens, Cecile de France, Guy Marchand, Alice de Lencquesaing

...fluently-directed and charmingly-realised French film.

Uncertain paternity is the thorn in the side of patriarchy and has thus been the stuff of both tragedy and comedy in countless books, plays and films. After all, how is the male line to be secured and policed if we can never be sure? Usually, this concerns the problems of inheritance or some such weighty matter. In this fluently-directed and charmingly-realised French film it is more a spur to romantic comedy.

Erwan Gourmelon (François Damiens) is an unpretentious middle-aged man with the responsible if quirky job of clearing old wartime munitions from his town’s beaches. He is on good terms with his father (Guy Marchand) but has a slightly spikey relationship with his grown-up daughter Juliette (the wonderful Alice de Lencquesaing). One day, Erwan finds out, by accident, that the man he grew up with is not his biological father. This sets up a dilemma because he is fond of his old man but, at the same time, he now has this itch to know who his real father is/was.

At exactly this point he suffers a meet-cute with a doctor named Anna (Cecile de France) and is soon smitten. When he first runs into her, he immediately sees how forceful and self-reliant she is. We also know that the courtship between her and the shy but honest Erwan is going to be a bit tortuous for both of them. Poured on top of this is the fact that his pregnant daughter refuses to say who the father of her child is so the paternity issues double up generationally.

The film is deliberately more like a Shakespearian comedy than a French farce, but director Carine Tardieu (The Dandelions) manages to keep the many side stories and the main romance likable and interesting. There is no straining for overdone profundity here. Rather it relies on its Gallic charm, and the excellent cast are all fully at home with the style and the material. It is very well played and, in a film like this, that is easily enough.

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