Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:21 am 
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Stars crossed and uncrossed in Brittany

Just to Be Sure/Ôtez-moi d'un doute is a charming and good-looking new French romantic comedy with a well-known and appealing cast led by Cécile de France and François Damiens (two of the best-known French-speaking film actors today from Belgium), along with, as the older generation, the distinguished Guy Marahand and the appealing André Wilms. The action is solid and realistic, yet worthy of a classic farce. That is the movie's chief charm but also its weakness. Some of the things that happen would, in real life, be painful, but here go by without a hitch.

Erwan Gourmelon (Damiens) does an important and challenging job. He heads a team that diffuses old mines along the Breton coast that survive from both the great wars. His father Bastien Gourmelon (Guy Marchand) is getting a bit old but still enjoys his small boat; this may require bypassing some nautical regulations. One day Erwan literally bumps into a woman on the road who hits a wild boar.

She is called Anna Levkine (Cécile de France) and, since she's a doctor, she is able to put the boar out of its misery. Tough-talking, cigarette-smoking, glamorous and pretty, Anna smites Erwan at once with her charms.

Meanwhile, other action is afoot. Erwan's young daughter Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing) is unexpectedly pregnant (as she is also in the recent - also 2018 Rendez-Vous - Endangered Species ), by she knows not whom. And she does not want to know, planning to raise the kid herself. Erwan is not content with this and insists on DNA tests - which lead to the surprise revelation that Erwan is not the son of Bastien. Erwan hires a private detective. She finds that his real father is not far away: Joseph Levkine (Wilms) - the father of Anna!

Anna and Erwan, who've been meeting and are rapidly getting interested in each other, may be semi-siblings. Whoops! More than awkward. Spoiler alert: this all sorts out, and everybody winds up happy. The wild card, and perhaps the most amusing character in the story, is Didier (Estéban of the group Naïve New Beaters), a geeky young man Juliette has hired as a social service as a helper on Erwan's team. His connection with her turns out to be more than that. As Didier, Estébann has a very offbeat charm that makes the movie's most directly comic note, while every other main actor down the line provides appealing solidity and warmth.

Just to Be Sure is only teasing us, but in the most good-natured way. This cast has the kind of rumpled pizazz, glamour and sex appeal the French carry off so effortlessly. We know quite well how things are going to turn out, but everybody is so likeable that we thoroughly enjoy getting there. This is an up-to-date example of why Hollywood has been known to steal rom-coms from the French and remake them Stateside.

Just to be Sure/Ôtez-moi d'un doute, 100 mins., AlloCiné press rating 3.4. Screened for this review as part of the Unifrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center 2018 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 18 Mar. 2018.

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