French Film, 2008.
Directed by Jackie Oudney.
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Anne-Marie Duff, Douglas Henshall, Victoria Hamilton and Eric Cantona.
As a journalist starts growing apart from his girlfriend after refusing to marry him, his best friend has found the perfect girlfriend.
I don’t see why the English and French still have an air of sniping hostility towards each other in popular culture. Isn’t it time that we accept that we both tried to rule the world, get on with our differences and come to terms that both our film industries will be forever daunted by Hollywood? Jackie Oudney’s romantic comedy French Film looks at a typically English man deal with typically French themes.
Hugh Bonneville plays Jed, a miserable journalist who is having troubles with his long term girlfriend, Cheryl (played very icily by Victoria Hamilton). After proposing to her, he recieved a simple ‘no’. Since then, they’ve looked at getting help from a French couple counsellor. This doesn’t help Jed, as he’s about as Franco-phobic as he is a stuffy Jeremy Clarkson. He’s also set to interview French film maker Thierry Grimandi (Eric Cantona. Yes, THAT Eric Cantona) who considers himself to be a self-appointed expert on love. Stereotypical enough for you yet?
Adding salt in the wound, his best friend Marcus (Dougless Henshall) has found what he claims to be the perfect girlfriend, Sophie (Anne-Marie Duff, without a Mancunian accent). Throughout the film, Thierry pops up as some kind of vague narrator, just in case you drift off slightly, which might happen a few times. It’s not a particularly good comedy.
There were a few moments that raised a smile at best, but for a romantic comedy, the comedy felt bland whilst the romance felt awkward in places. Bonneville and Cantona seemed like the only two actors fitting into their roles well, whilst the rest of the cast were just simply unlikable. Surprisingly, it was the ex-football player who I enjoyed watching the most. Cantona seemed to have a shaggy Steve Coogan look going on which really complimented his character.
Most of the dialogue in the film just felt too much like a template, with some of the wry comments getting no laughs due to a lack of originality. The relationship between Jed and Cheryl was a hard aspect to take in seeing as she was by far one of the most joyless character committed to film. How anyone could stand to be with such a person truly boggled me. In the end, I found myself rooting for their break up in a hope that Cheryl would have less screen time.
One of the major problems with this as a film is that it just didn’t feel like a film. It felt more like a one off television drama that decided to outstay its welcome. The entire story could have been condensed into a forty minute affair with better pacing and less lingering on redundant situtations. It’s no surprise that French Film has slipped past me unnoticed until now.
The DVD extras feature interviews, behind the scenes and the theatrical trailer. Only worth watching if it pops up on television during a particularly lazy Sunday. Unless there’s a real French film on, of course.
Will Preston is a student at the University of Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website), presents a weekly radio show on PURE FM and makes various short films.
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