Movies like this are so hard to recommend. It’s very flawed. It’s about an hour longer than it needed to be (it’s two hours and 30 minutes). The characters are needy and the more you get to know them, the less you like them.
A guy sitting next to me said upon exiting “It was like watching some boring vacation video your friends took.”
Yet all that said, I was never bored and enjoyed the long dinner conversations this group of friends was having.
Perhaps that could be based on the fact that they’re some of the best actors in France: Jean Dujardin, Francois Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Benoit Magimel, Louise Monot, Valerie Bonneton – and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard – who had about 25 close-ups (and I’m not complaining about a single one).
Filmaker Guillaume Canet did the suspenseful movie Tell No One -- among my favorites last year. This movie is his take on The Big Chill. A group on vacation is mourning the serious injury of a friend. They talk about the good times, the bad, all while consuming lots of wine along the beautiful seaside.
The opening tracking shot is stunning, even if it’s predictable. The shaky-cam got annoying, and I would’ve preferred a few more intellectual conversations among this intriguing group.
They includes a rich restaurateur who pays for everything (and lets you know it), a chiropractor that is married but in love with the rich guy, a seductress (Cotillard) who seems to be bored and angry by everyone around her, and that pathetic friend we all have; the guy who gets dumped and spends the next few months plotting to get her back and bugging everyone around him with ideas on how to do that.
Just like The Big Chill being chalk full of golden oldies, this film has some great old tunes. I thought they were much more interesting choices. Sure, everyone knows Fortune Son and Hang on Sloppy, but when they went with Janis Joplin it wasn’t Summertime or Piece of My Heart. They played Kozmic Blues. We also heard some rare cuts from David Bowie, Nina Simone, Rodriguez, and Lou Reed/Antony Hegarty.
I found the ending to be very moving, but I’m guessing others won’t have the patience to get there; or if they do, they just might not care at that point. And I can’t say I’d blame them.
The movie gets 2 ½ stars out of 5. It may be better than Peter’s Friends, but isn’t nearly as good as Big Chill. It’s a shame, because this film could’ve been something very special.