MY FRIENDS MY LOVES
When divorced bookseller Mathias (Vincent Lindon) moves to London to be closer to his daughter after getting fired from his Paris job, his ex-wife, Valentine (Mar Sodupe) takes it as an opportunity to move back to France. He decides to move in with his old friend, and fellow divorcee, Antoine (Pascale Elbé); they set up a shared apartment in an ex-pat French enclave in South Kensington (affectionately referred to as 'Frog Alley') so they can share child-minding duties. But while establishing house rules is easy, handling relationships with the opposite sex is another matter. When Mathias falls for the charms of a sexy French journalist, Audrey (Virginie Ledoyen), the smart arrangement between the dads begins to fall apart...
Review by Louise Keller:
There's an aerial shot in which street directions are clearly shown on a London street intersection: Turn Right; Turn Left. One thing is for sure, whether you're in France, England or anywhere else, there are no real directions when it comes to love. This entertaining French romantic comedy passes all the tests with its top cast, odd-couple buddy premise and heart rending stories of cupid's impact. The twist is that it is set in London (or Frog Alley, which is like Paris without the Parisians) where husbands, fathers, best friends, ex-wives, kids and neighbours somehow all manage to weave chaos, love, fun and frivolity together.
I've been a fan of Vincent Lindon for some time, but it wasn't until 2005 that I fell in love with his screen persona in La moustache. He was simply so... vulnerable. He is somewhat vulnerable here too as the man who confuses the present with the past and whose vertigo is a sign of the voids that need to be filled. Lovely Virginie Ledoyen's Audrey is the one who rescues Lindon's Mathias from his plight, when they meet in a small book store with a big soul. Their romance springboards from unusual circumstances but there are obstacles to be overcome - like the new living arrangements that Mathias has just arranged with his architect best friend Antoine (Pascal Elbé) and their two kids (Tom Invernizzi, Garance Le Guillermic), who fortunately have a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Antoine is a great cook and organiser, but he has a long list of rules to remember, and let's face it, life doesn't always play by rules. Florence Foresti's Sophie, who runs a local flower shop and who recruits Antoine to write love letters to her fictional lover is not catered for in his rules.
The script zips along at great pace as relationships begin, falter and sort themselves out. Director Lorraine Levy, who co-wrote the script with Philippe Guez makes great use of music to illustrate every situation. The performances are all delightful as is the journey we take in pursuit of love and happiness.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A serious subject but a light touch makes for a reasonably engaging dramatic comedy, notable for its outstanding performances from the entire cast - including all the youngsters. Indeed, the children play a far more important role in this film than we would expect from what is essentially a French buddy movie crossed with a romantic comedy.
The other fresh element is the setting of Frog Alley, a French enclave in London.
Vincent Lindon (so memorable in The Moustache) is great as Mathias, still in love with his ex, Valentine (Mar Sodupe) - who is amenable to the odd one night stand with him, but whose attention is fixed on a more distant horizon. Her character is the least endearing, a mother who seems to have no real bond with her daughter, Emilie, nicely played by little Garance Le Guillermic.
His 'odd couple' buddy Antoine (Pascale Elbé) is a tidiness-freak architect obsessed with rules and regimentation, also divorced (no wonder) who is afraid of relationships. The contrast works well, although sometimes it's a bit laboured. Florence Foresti is a stand out as Sophie, the woman who knows Antoine loves her but doesn't reveal it, using him to ghost writers to her imaginary lover as a device.
Virgine Ledoyen gets the smaller of the lead roles, but her character of Audrey is crucial: she's the one whose appeal gets Mathias' attention, which triggers the crumbling of the arrangements with the divorced men and their children - which never did seem as good as the real thing.
Flawed and sometimes a bit contrived (like kiddies mouthing wise observations between themselves in precocious but cute mode) the film is nevertheless entertaining, engaging and unmistakably French, from the romanticised, Euro-views of London to the sex and nudity.
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MY FRIENDS MY LOVES (MA)
Mes Amis Mes Amours
CAST: Vincent Lindon, Pascal Elbe, Virgine Ledoyen, Florence Foresti, Bernadette Lafont, Mar Sodupe, Mathia Mlekuz, Garance Le Guillermic
PRODUCER: Dominique Farrugia
DIRECTOR: Lorraine Levy
SCRIPT: Lorraine Levy,Philippe Guez, Marc Levy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Emmanuel Soyer
EDITOR: Sophie Reine
MUSIC: Sebastien Souchois
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francoise Dupertuis
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 14, 2009