Luis (Alain Chabat) is successful, handsome and single. His carefree existence is threatened when his mother and five sisters decide it's time for him to marry. They are sick of doing his domestic chores so they set him up on blind dates every night with all the single women that they know (and even some that they don't). After a month of exhausting bad dates, Luis hatches a plan to evade the scheming; he'll find a woman who will charm his family, exchange engagement rings... and stand him up at the church. Emma (Charlotte Gainsbourg), his best friend's sister has just moved to Paris and is looking for a job. It seems like a win-win situation. But the best-laid plans ....
Review by Louise Keller:
A scintillating French romantic comedy with plenty of je ne sais quoi, I Do takes a simple premise and twists it until it bursts at the seams. At first this might appear to be a one-note theme, but the story shifts as quickly as do the emotions. There's Alain Chabat's forty-something bachelor Luis, whose female-dominated family insists he take a wife, countered by Charlotte Gainsbourgh's Emma, the free-spirited antique-furniture restorer who agrees to play the part of his bride-to-be for money. An odd couple who enter their contract with no thought for the consequences. The perfect plan is far from perfect, of course, and the second plan goes terribly awry. Family relationships are in the spotlight in this pull-me, push-me tug of war of emotions that tackles all our differences head-on. It's funny and sweet, taking us deep into unexpected territories, often with outrageous results.
What makes this film so enjoyable is the fact that the premise is pushed further than we expect. When Emma signs the contract with her older brother's colleague Luis to charm his family before dumping him at the altar, it is the means to an end, for the child she so badly wants to adopt. It's all about the money as she haggles about overtime when their dinner is five minutes longer than expected and his mother insists on frequent phone calls to finalise the wedding plans. The second plan (to make the family despise Emma) raises the stakes considerably, and the scene in which Luis matriarch mother walks in on them wearing black leather, fish-net stockings and whipping each other into a frenzy, is hilarious.
There are touches of farce, but director Eric Lartigau keeps it real, so there is something tangible for both Luis and Emma to lose. The progression of their relationship is crafted with care and by the time Emma moves into Luis' apartment (just for show, of course), they drive each other crazy. The emotional punch doesn't come until the very end, when suddenly we see the gravitas of the story become apparent. It's a perfect balance of light-hearted frivolity, grounded in truth and real emotions.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Developed from an idea by the actor and sometime director Alain Chabat, I Do is a strong commercial concept (Hollywood remake material, in fact) in which the mere male gains our reluctant applause as a carefree bachelor with the comedy, and later earns our genuine affection with the romance. Committed bachelors may find the idea appealing at first, but as the film shows, you can never trust a woman to behave as you might expect when it comes to other women. Good lesson.
The material doesn't lack bite, with both Luis (Alain Chabat) and Emma (Charlotte Gainsbourg) trespassing on political correctness as well as behaving badly. But the screenplay isn't satisfying in its treatment of the idea, and Eric Lartigau's direction does little to improve things. There isn't either enough of a sense of fun, nor enough of the real pain showing through to give the film emotional traction.
Too often in the first two acts the script is pushed for comic effect, dragging the tone into shallow waters. Characterisation is also patchy, although Alain Chabat makes Luis complete; I never did see Charlotte Gainsbourg's appeal, and she has to play an unsympathetic, selfish and cold bitch most of the film, which does nothing to warm us up.
Supports are all skimpily shown, and the plot suffers from too few ideas, but the film plays as an entertaining riff on the old stand by of instant dislike turning to eternal love.
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I DO (M)
Prête-moi ta main
CAST: Alain Chabat, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bernadette Lafont, Wladimir Yordanoff, Gregoire Oestermann, Veronique Barrault, Marie-Arnelle Deguy, Katia Lewkowitz, Louise Monot, Luce Mouchel
PRODUCER: Alain Chabat, Amandine Bilot
DIRECTOR: Eric Lartigau
SCRIPT: Philippe Mechelen, Laurent Tirard, Gregoire Vigneron, Laurent Zeitoun
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Regis Blondeau
EDITOR: Juliette Welfling
MUSIC: Erwan Kermorvant
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sylvie Olivé
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 21, 2007