Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Belgium/Luxembourg/France, 2016. Bonjour Pictures, Deal Productions, Frakas Productions, Avenue B Productions, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, Région Wallonne, Bruxellimage, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Federal de Belgique, Casa Kafka Pictures, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter Empowered by Belfius, Fonds National de Soutien à la Production Audiovisuelle du Luxembourg, Cofinova 12, Pathe, Proximus. Screenplay by Bavo Defurne, Jacques Boon, Yves Verbraeken. Produced by Yves Verbraeken. Cinematography by Philippe Guilbert. Music by Pink Martini. Production Design by Andre Fonsny. Costume Design by Christophe Pidre. Film Editing by Sophie Vercruysse. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
A middle-aged woman working at a pate factory (Isabelle Huppert) has a routine life, catching the same bus every day after work and going home to the same quiet apartment, drinking before bed before getting up for the same assembly-line routine in the morning. A bend appears in the road when a handsome young man (Kévin Azaïs) shows up and tells her that she resembles a singer who lost the Eurovision contest for Belgium decades earlier, something he knows because his dad is a big fan. Once he begins insisting that she is the singer in question, he pesters her until she admits that, yes, she is the once-popular “Laura” who broke up with her manager husband and is now living in obscurity as a factory worker. Their friendship turns to sex, then true affection and he, in his passion for the woman who is initiating him into manhood, insists that he can get her career back on track, entering her into Eurovision as Belgium’s representative and putting her back in the public eye for the first time in forty years. Feeling unsure of herself, Huppert turns to her ex-husband and asks him to help out, which causes a rift between her and her new man. This endearing romantic musical, a more stylish Everybody’s Famous, has many delicious ingredients, from its consistently light tone to the wonderful music, the rich lighting and, of greatest benefit, its cast. Huppert hasn’t been this glamorous since Ozon’s 8 Women, but more impressive is that director Bavo Defurne finds a vulnerable tenderness to her that her daring and dangerous roles have not showcased in a long time. Her sexy chemistry with the beautiful, blue-eyed Azais certainly takes care of the rest of the film’s tangible pleasure, and then there’s the main song by Pink Martini that you’ll be singing on your way out the door. If the film feels slightly dissatisfying in its conclusion it’s only because its light nature comes hand in hand with a plot that barely bothers with much conflict before scaring some up in its last third, which it then resolves a bit too quickly; thanks to Duferne’s sparkling direction, however, you won’t the story’s being a bit too thin thanks to an overall feeling of sweetness to the whole thing.