Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
All Together: A Houseful of Old French People
hard to imagine a demographic group more set in their ways than French senior
citizens. There will be no gallivanting off
to Mumbai for them. However, reality is
beginning to set in for five old friends.
Deciding there are strengths and economies in numbers, they decide to
share digs in Stéphane Robelin’s All
opens this Friday in New York.
Colin is an aging lefty who can no longer get arrested. C’est tragic.
Neither the characters nor the filmmakers apparently recognize the
contradiction between the rich lifestyle his well heeled wife Annie makes
possible and his lifetime of class warfare.
Naturally, it will be Annie’s house that the other three move into.
and Jeanne are married. Claude is notoriously
single, but distressingly, his mojo is failing him. More ominously, Albert’s faculties are iffy
at best. Fortunately, Dirk, a Spanish geriatric
ethnology grad student agrees to serve as their live-in caregiver as part of
his thesis. Not surprisingly, there was
not a lot of competition for that gig, but the interview process is still
a sense, All Together is a bridge film
between the crowd pleasing Marigold Hotel
and Michael Haneke’s uncompromisingly grim Amour
due in theaters this December. While
there will be both humor and sorrow, Robelin never lets either overwhelm the
picture. Instead, he allows his
characters to breeze along in a spirit of bittersweet sophistication, largely
self-aware of their foibles and mortality.
That distinctive tone helps the film sidestep the numerous melodramatic
pitfalls thematically related films often wallow in.
narrative is all very nice and heartfelt, but for just about every viewer the
important story of All Together is
Jane Fonda’s return to French filmmaking forty years after she appeared in
Godard’s Tout va Bien. Still fluent in French, her time with Roger
Vadim was not completely misspent. In
fact, she anchors the film dramatically, turning some particularly touching
scenes with Daniel Brühl’s Dirk.
Likewise, Pierre Richard’s understated performance as Albert is quite
real and honest.
a relatively thinly developed character, Geraldine Chaplin is still quite
engaging as Annie. However, Guy Bedos
and Claude Rich get a bit shticky, overdoing the senior scampishness as Jean
and Claude, respectively. Ultimately
though, Brühl’s everyman decency and Fonda’s portrayal of the mentally sound
but terminally ill Jeanne keep the film on-track (with a brief but memorable
late appearance by Shemss Audat as Dirk’s potential love interest adding some spice).
Together would look absolutely
painful on the printed page, but Robelin’s execution is surprisingly
surefooted. Avoiding cheap sentiment and
lazy laughs, it is rather grounded, in an elitist, Dolce Vita kind of way. Recommended
for Francophiles and fans of the famous cast, All Together opens this Friday (10/19) in New York at the Quad
Labels: French Cinema, Jane Fonda