Du Jour au Lendemain

Best French Comedy?

March 21, 2006By Heidi EllisonFilm

Du Jour au Lendemain (From One Day to the Next), directed by Philippe Le Guay, poses the following question: What happens when a man’s sad, gray life suddenly – and for no apparent reason – takes on brilliant colors and becomes a total success, fulfilling all his desires?

François (Benoît Poelvoorde) is a hapless bank employee whose wife has left him. He lives in an anonymous modern apartment full of unpacked boxes and sleeps on a sofa bed. He is awakened every morning by a neighbor’s barking dog and tries to fall asleep to the sound of another set of neighbors making love behind a paper-thin wall. In between, his coffee machine explodes in his face, his boss threatens to fire him for being 10 minutes late every day and he loses at tennis to his handsome, chick-magnet best friend.

But then the next day the sun shines and François’s life turns around. At first he just basks in the sheer joy of it all, but then he begins to wonder why. He feels he had done nothing to deserve his former misery and has done nothing to deserve the good life he now enjoys. As this conundrum continues to eat away at him, he sets out to destroy his newfound happiness, but it just won’t go away. Finally, he flips out and has to be locked up.

The filmmaker and his co-writer, Olivier Dazat, don’t seem to really know what answer they want to give to the question they have posed. The film’s ending seems to be saying that we should accept our lot in life without forgetting to stop and smell the roses, but even that is not very clear, since François is actually rewarded for trying to return to his former unhappy state. What does this tell us? Good question.

The real moral of the film seems to be that if you’re going to make a film based on an idea, make sure you know what that idea is.

What comes in between is mildly entertaining, but mainly because we are curious about how the story will turn out.

The critic for Le Monde called this film “the best in French comedy.” I have long been worried about the state of French comedy (Les Bronzés 3)is still number-one at the box office), and if this is the best they can do (there was some, but not very much, laughter from the French audience in the cinema during the film), then I have good reason to be worried. And I won’t even mention the fact that Jerry Lewis was just given the French Legion of Honour by the national government and a medal by the mayor of Paris.


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