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Sunday, 9 December 2007

Review: Hunting and Gathering, dir. Claude Berri

I fully prefer the French title (Ensemble C'est Tout) because it sums up the film more precisely. And, when it comes to French comedy, la precision c'est tout! Especially with the uber-gamine Audrey Tatou (pic), playing Camille, a girl who, the blurb tells us, "is doing her best to disappear".

The echoes of ancien regime France are apparent but not over-done. This is not Jane Austen, nor is it Dickens but, rather, the kind of comedy we are accustomed to from the French. It is also wonderfully charming, tender, funny (chuckle-friendly), and sexy. On this last point, however, I would like to register my protest over the type of kiss we're used to American films delivering. I'm tired of the romance being destroyed by these twisting, energetic, full-on smooches. I want something more real (this is not the way people kiss, conard!).

A resume of the plot is out of the question, although having something like this online might be of use. I just don't have the patience. But I want to testify here that I am completely in love with Phillibert (the aristocrat) because he is generous, kind, unprepossessing, chivalrous, intelligent, charming, and quite unimaginably perfect.

If only the ancien regime had behaved like him, there would never have been a revolution (conard!).

However, I will say that the treatment of Paulette is ravishingly beautiful. If this is the way the French think the world should be, then I want to live there, at least for a while (just to see if the image is lived up to by the reality; I suspect it is not). Paulette has a stroke and the blokey Franck, her grandson, takes Mondays off to look after her.

Franck lives in Phillibert's apartment and Phillibert rescues Camille from certain pneumonia when he carries her down the stairs from her freezing garret into his spacious apartment. Camille alters the boys' reality, not only because she is an artist, but because she is practical and honest.

They bring Paulette to the apartment to live while she recuperates, and Camille stays at home from her cleaning job to look after her. When she is better, they return her to her house and garden, her cats and dog, and her chickens.

Camille also falls for Franck and requests that he make love to her. But she is not prepared for a commitment. It is Franck who wants to be her boyfriend, not the other way round.

Being a comedy, everything turns out well in the end, but it is the journey and its delights that will ensure this film stays with its viewers for some time to come.

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