Il ne Faut Jurer de Rien

Swashbuckling Comedy

October 11, 2005By Heidi EllisonFilm

Are you ready for a swashbuckling French costume comedy? Here it is: Il ne Faut Jurer de Rien, starring Gérard Jugnot, star of last year’s surprise box-office smash Les Choristes, and Mélanie Doutey, the new French screen sweetheart, who made her name in one of France’s few (only?) successful TV sitcoms, “Clara Sheller,” in which the pretty, perky actress played the roommate of a gay man. It wasn’t “Will and Grace,” but it wasn’t bad for French TV.

Back to the film: Directed by Eric Civanyan and set in 1930, it is based on French poet Alfred de Musset’s play of the same name and tells the story of a rich, shop-proud merchant who wants to marry his dissolute nephew (Jean Dujardin) off to the daughter of an impoverished aristocrat.

Neither the daughter or the nephew want any part of this plan, but for a little fun, the cynical Don Juan of a nephew gets his uncle to agree that if he can bed the headstrong young lady before midnight, he won’t have to marry her.

This leads to all sorts of fun and games as the nephew chases the daughter around and – surprise – gets her to fall in love with him. Throw in lavish costumes, lovely scenery, some gratuitous violence, lots of debauchery with naked prostitutes in a bordello, a few exciting horse-and-carriage chases, and plenty of anachronistic dialogue and feminist attitude, and you have 100 minutes of colorful overactivity and overacting that

Alfred de Musset would probably have difficulty recognizing as his work.

Why are so many French directors lately trying to compete with popular American films by overdoing the action to the point of hysteria, rather than sticking to what they do best?

In the future, expect to be see a lot more of the dimply Mélanie Doutey, who has the same sort of appeal as Audrey Tautou and even looks quite a lot like her.


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