A Perfect Plan (French: Un plan parfait), 2012.
Directed by Pascal Chaumeil.
Starring Diane Kruger and Dany Boon.
To break the family curse one woman hatches the perfect plan for a quick fire marriage.
Diane Kruger leaves the crime wave of American TV, and heads to France to concoct and take part in a frustrating and decidedly unfunny rom-com.
Superstition and curses are on the menu for this slice of absurdist adventure as Isabelle (Kruger) attempts to defeat the curse that has befallen all of the women in her family whose first marriages have all ended in divorce. The solution is a quick marriage to a complete stranger followed by a quick divorce. Just as a cake requires flour, this being a romantic-comedy A Perfect Plan requires a good helping of drama, and where should this drama come from but secrets and deception that add a cheap tasting tang to this unappealing rom-com.
The premise offers a stable base for Pascal Chaumeil who brought us the charming Heartbreaker to take us on another pleasant comedic outing in the wide open romantic landscape.
A Perfect Plan would have been wise to heed the advice of Howard Hawkes who concocted many a comedy gem in the Screwball comedy sub-genre that indulged in an excessive comedy aesthetic. Hawkes once observed that one should never try to hard when it comes to comedy. Within the first twenty minutes of A Perfect Plan already starts to unravel from a heavy comedic hand that leaves us with a decidedly contemptuous attitude towards Isabelle. If on impulse one might describe her as the beautiful troublemaker, one might be persuaded to swap that adjective for one that is less flattering and affectionate.
Chaumeil opens it with a breeze that teases with the possibility of this not turning into an accidental love story, and opens with exchanges around the dinner table at Christmas that leave sentimentality and such emotions at the door. Whilst refreshing are the cast of characters who are not afraid to put a little bite in their bark, that bite only serves to give Isabelle her unflattering edge .
Soon the descent into a crazy chase for a marriage of convenience is not the only spiralling descent, as the forced intentions to create a series of humorous scenes reverberate uncomfortably. The lynchpin of the film is the belief in Isabelle’s desperation for a child with long term boyfriend Pierre, whose traditional family morals requires a set of nuptials before the promise of a child. This inevitably creates a stumbling block in Isabelle’s perfect and idyllic life.
Chaumeil struggles to paint an impression of a desperation that would implore to do anything other than to abandon her plan. Of course the filmic reality dictates that she makes the impulsive choice to pursue her new target Jean Yves (Dany Boon) after the previous arrangements have gone awry. So to form she runs the risk of turning A Perfect Plan into a not so perfect one. But then, plans that are pulled off in the movies without a hitch are not necessarily the most interesting ones.
The actions of the characters range from the illogical to the downright silly, motivated solely for cheap effect that leaves the film feeling contrived and awkward. There are moments when it shines, from the subtle comedic touches that are well handled, to the chemistry between Kruger and her co-star.
The journey to and fro feels a long one, weighed down with tired and worn set pieces, as Kruger’s character is cheapened for comedy effect. If her comedic talents do shine through, the material does a fine job of clouding this comedic sensibility, as A Perfect Plan resembles a perfect pay check.
Isabelle’s obnoxious nature and her desperation raises the question whether A Perfect Plan should not fall under the hammer of criticism as so many horror films do for their unflattering and negative depiction of women. With horror as a convenient distraction there is little need for concern one suspects.
An absurd love caper lacking in originality, it’s most severe crime is that at 1 hour and 45 minutes it feels long well before it hits the half way mark.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Paul Risker is a freelance writer and contributor to Flickering Myth.