Thursday, 18 November 2010

Getting Even With Cad

15 – 102mins – 1995
Story by: Telsche Boorman and Josiane Balasko
Screenplay by: Josiane Balasko
Directed by: Josiane Balasko
Starring: Victoria Abril, Josiane Balasko, Alain Chabat, Ticky Holgado, Catherine Hiegel

Since when has adultery been funny? Certainly not in this French “comedy” where fighting affair with affair only leads to a flaming farce which blows up in everyone’s face. Gawky estate agent Laurent (Egon Spengler lookalike Chabat) has cheated on his sweet and neglected housewife Loli (Abril) with every tart in town, so we are meant to rejoice when butch lesbian Marijo (Balasko) turns up on despairing Loli’s doorstep and the two hit it off a little too well…

What follows is a ludicrously awkward and bizarre year-long ménage a trios where desperate Loli uses smitten Marijo to make her unfaithful sap of a sexist husband jealous by inviting the unfeminine, cigar-chomping DJ to move into her family home so she can sleep with her while grovelling sap Laurent snivels on the sofa. How immature… how totally fucked up!!

I’m sure there’s a message in their somewhere about feminist empowerment, but it gets totally lost in this unromantic Carry On style romp which forgoes the pain and heartache of real-life domestic drama for bed-hopping tomfoolery. Even the original French title, Gazon Maudit, is played for laughs: “Dreadful lawn” is a crude expression for a lady’s… well, I think you can guess!!

So Loli obtains the passion absent from her marriage from an outside source; but why is a happily heterosexual woman so easily swayed into a single sex relationship? Is writer/director/star Josiane Balasko trying to suggest that when looking for love it’s a free-for-all where you pick a gender on a whim?? This bisexual implication certainly isn’t put to bed by a laughable epilogue twist which suggests that even after everything Laurent still can’t keep it in his pants.

So the moral of the caper is a leopard can’t change his spots, but a human can change sexual persuasion? Hmmm…. A further irritation, for me, was that Loli was already happy for Marijo to kiss and grope her even before Laurent’s serial infidelities had been revealed by his repugnant best mate (Holgado). How can we sympathise with any of these characters if even the victims are lacking in morals?

Even headstrong wanderer Marijo – the only one without commitments, remember – far too readily and selfishly breaks up a family home where two young children must be utterly bewildered by this manly woman who is being overly friendly with their mother.

Filmed in 1995, this film already feels horrendously outdated – and not just because of the brick of a mobile phone Laurent heaves around or the fact Marijo plays a Game Boy before bed. The depiction of straight and gay lifestyles just seems far too loose and unrealistic and I can imagine some people being offended by the lack of restraint the characters demonstrate. I can’t help but feel that in an attempt to appear edgy and modern, French Twist just comes across desperate.

In a CR@B Shell: A questionable comedy which makes light of its devastating moral outlook by pushing every scenario to farcical extremes. It’s hard to warm to any of the characters, so destructive are their actions, yet we’re meant to accept that it’s all forgiveable in the name of “love”…

No comments:

Post a Comment