American Touch for French Comedy

September 21, 2016By Heidi EllisonFilm
Victoria (Virginie Efira) and her babysitter/assistant, Sam (Vincent Lacoste).

Director Justine Triet admits that for her third film, Victoria, she set out to make an American-style comedy. Being French, however, she chose as her chuckle-generator the subject of depression, not everyone’s idea of a barrel of laughs. But what the hell, all’s fair in love and romcoms.

Victoria (played with great assurance by Virginie Efira) is a beautiful, high-powered criminal lawyer of the type who has no qualms about sleeping with judges. Every night she takes a new man, picked up online, into her bed, even though she’s a single mother who works long hours and has sole custody of two little girls. Those poor neglected children, by the way, serve as nothing more than props in the film.

Victoria’s depression has several sources. Against her better judgment, she is defending a close friend, Vincent (Melvil Poupaud), who is accused of the attempted murder of his bride on their wedding night. Victoria ends up getting suspended from the bar for six months because of a fault committed during this trial. In the meantime, she is suing her ex-husband for libel because he’s publishing on his blog salacious details about her work and sex life, including her sexcapades with judges.

Holding everything together for her is her babysitter and assistant, Sam, who is, of course, in love with Victoria. To help her with her supposed but highly unrealistic depression, she sees not only a shrink but also a pessimistic tarot reader who sees nothing but bad luck in her cards.

The film manages to be fairly entertaining and occasionally funny, in spite of its sometimes confusing plot (so many things are going on in Victoria’s life that her neglect of her children is not surprising) and overwrought style (broken up by one extremely long and boring sex scene that involves mostly lots of panting).

One of the best things in the movie is the character of Sam, played by the cherub-lipped Vincent Lacoste (star of the truly funny French comedy Les Beaux Gosses), who is self-aware enough to realize that the reason no one pays much attention to him, especially the self-obsessed Victoria, is because he is so “inoffensive.”

While the film seems to take a feminist stance (all the judges on the panel for Victoria’s hearing, for example, are women), it goes the way of every romcom: all it takes to solve Victoria’s problems – including her supposed depression – is, you guessed it, a good man.

Note: I saw this film as part of an event called “Priceless Souper,” sponsored by Le Fooding, during which filmgoers not only get a preview of a new movie but are also served a dinner prepared by a leading chef, to be eaten while watching it. Our meal was prepared by Christophe Saintagne, former head chef at the Meurice, who offered a warm vegetable starter; an Elvis-inspired sandwich of peanut butter, banana and ham; and a financier for dessert. The next Priceless Souper will be held on Nov. 9, but the film, location and name of the chef remain a mystery until just before the event. Click here for more info.


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