out of Five
Running time: 87
Engaging, frequently amusing and surprisingly thoughtful British romcom, enlivened by strong performances from its four leads and a likeable comic turn from Cantona.
What's it all about?
Thankfully not in the same vein as the likes of Date Movie, Epic Movie and Disaster Movie, French Film is a British romcom starring Hugh Bonneville as Jed Winter, a journalist who's researching acclaimed French film director Thierry Grimandi (Eric Cantona) for an onstage NFT interview. Initially dismissing Grimandi's views on life, love and cinema as pretentious rubbish, Jed finds himself forced to reassess his views on love and relationships when Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton), his girlfriend of ten years, rejects his marriage proposal.
To make matters worse, Jed begins to realise that he's actually in love with for his friend Sophie (Anne-Marie Duff), who's been going out with his friend Marcus (Douglas Henshall) for the past two years. But when Marcus re-encounters his (French) childhood sweetheart and considers ending things with Sophie, Jed's placed in a difficult position.
Hugh Bonneville does a good job of making Jed both likeable and sympathetic, which is just as well, since the audience are just as likely to side with Cheryl as with Jed in the relationship counselling scenes. There's also strong support from Hamilton, Henshall and Duff, while Eric Cantona elevates chin-stroking to an art form in an amusing comic turn as Grimandi.
The film is intercut with frequent cuts to Grimandi's DVD interview, alongside scenes from one of his films in which a relationship begins after a woman is mistaken for a prostitute. This allows for much thoughtful discussion about the beginnings and endings of relationships, while also asking provocative questions about the possibility of real love, as opposed to settling for something comfortable.
The main problem with the film is that it's not quite funny enough to really work as a comedy, though the relationship element is well handled.
In short, French Film is an enjoyable British romcom that's light on laughs but ultimately succeeds thanks to likeable performances and a thoughtful script. Worth seeing.