The good news regarding the international films that New York-based Film Movement, which operates a spectacular Film of the Month Club, releases on DVD in the U.S., is that the reviews of these movies practically write themselves. This is especially true regarding the hilarious 2014 French comedy "if you don't, i will." This release comes out on April 7, 2015.
"don't" goes beyond the typical Movement standard of being able to be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the United States. This Woody Allenesque quasi-dystopian tale of stagnant love is a good example of a classic New York based film of Allen. Slightly toning down the neurotic personas and spot-on wry observations are the only differences.
This New York vibe includes scenes with the cosmopolitan friends of the central couple; the members of this clique includes the almost requisite turtleneck-clad bearded pseudo intellectual (a.k.a. uber-pompous ass).
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "don't" nicely selects some of the best moments of some of the best scenes to accurately depict the well-presented themes and tone of the film.
Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric of "Coco Before Chanel" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" respectively respectively play long-time married urban couple Pomme and Pierre.
Filmmaker Sophie Fillieres awesomely establishes the themes and the mood of "don't" in an opening scene in which the not-so-happy couple attends an art gallery exhibition of the work of a friend. The terrifically jaded Pomme responds on a younger and more attractive woman asking her for directions to the bathroom that she does not work there in the same manner that many of us who inadvertently wear red polo shirts to Target react on being asked for the location of shower curtains.
This scene continues with the younger woman responding that she thought that Pomme still might know the location of the bathroom. Pomme then provides the requested directions. The next scene has Pierre, who is absent during the aforementioned exchange, announcing a need to pee only to have Pomme tell him without explanation that he must wait.
The very civilized tension between the pair escalates and climaxes in Pierre running ahead of his wife to catch a bus in the rain without having it wait for her. Information regarding a significant factor related to this deterioration of the marriage is nicely and slowly revealed during the course of the film.
The next portion of the film portrays the less intense level of tension and animosity that characterizes the daily lives of the leads. These include hilarious moments that clearly show that the honeymoon is over.
Some of the best scenes from the portion of this film are between Pomme and her 20-something son from a prior relationship Romain. This role is the first for almost sure to be a star in his own right Nelson Delapaalme. Pomme terrifically conveys a parent doing an overall good job coming to terms with her little boy becoming a man. It is equally clear that she is transferring some of the lost affection with her husband to her son.
Escalating tensions erupt during a hike on which Pomme abruptly announces that she is staying in the forest and orders Pierre to return home. The humor in this scene includes Pierre questioning the need of Pomme for his windbreaker despite having one of her own.
The next portion of "don't" portrays Pomme living in the woods and Pierre largely going about his daily life in the city. Describing their lives during this period as stoic does not properly convey these scenes,
The incidents in the lives of Pierre and Pomme before the audience meets them and the events that "don't" depicts simply boil down to requiring that those characters decide whether they are happier together than they would be if they separated. The fact that this is not a Hollywood romcom keeps the suspense regarding this outcome uncertain right to the end of the film.
The typically well-matched bonus short film this time is the French dramedy "Driving Lessons." The equal parts dram and edy relate to teen Manon contending with her grandmother and a cranky driving instructor in the immediate wake of taking a pregnancy test. The character of the grandmother, the embarrassment of Manon regarding purchasing the pregnancy test, and the inadvertent metaphor that the instructor makes combine for a terrific film that would make a wonderful feature-length production.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "don't" or "Driving" is welcome to email mm. You can also connect on Twitter via @firstname.lastname@example.org