Simple Things | Les Choses Simples (2023)

February 22nd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Eric Besnard | Cast: Gregory Gadebois, Lambert Wilson, Marie Gillain | France, Drama 97′

Gregory Gadebois, Lambert Wilson and a frisky french bulldog are in fine comic form in this odd couple buddy movie. Simple Things is far from simple totally subverting expectations in a comedy drama that is actually quite subtle and complex. 

Set in the heady landscapes of the Auvergne Alps an evocative opening sequence reminds us how stressful modern life has become in the big city. And this is where the uber chic eco entrepreneur Vincent (Wilson) is heading when his sports breaks down on a lush mountain highway. Plump country bumpkin Pierre (Gadebois) just happens to riding by and offers him a offers him a lift on his motorcycle.

This being the rural life Pierre – not a man to be trifled with, or hurried – insists on cooking an delicious omelette and taking a siesta before the two finally set off for the big smoke, Vincent offering Pierre dinner for his kindness. But spying an angry yuppie complaining of Vincent’s late arrival Gadebois speeds off into the distance.  

In the thick of the boardroom it dawns on Vincent how fed up he is of the fast lane. But before he has time to reflect on his frayed mental state the meeting is in full swing, but he is clearly coming apart at the seams. Back at the ranch Pierre is feeding the chickens when Vincent reappears on the pretence of losing his Mont Blanc pen, but really to ask Pierre if he can stay awhile and the disdainful loner offers him a meagre straw mattress in his nearby rustic cabin. Next morning Wilson makes an offer Gad immediately – and angrily refuses – that of offering to finance his friends existence as part of an eco project.  Deeply insulted that anyone should try and patronise his modest way of life as if it were somehow quaint rather than real on every way, Pierre sends the smug ‘cool guy’ packing.

The subtle interplay between Wilson’s trendy entrepreneur and Pierre’s disdainful mountain hermit provides the film with its rich vein of humour but the romance between Pierre and his cousin’s widow Camille (Gillian) sounds a bum note in this otherwise engaging comedy drama. Bernard and his co-writer Anne Wermeligere cook up a clever script which ticks all the zeitgeisty boxes and there’s a terrific car chase and an evocative score too not to mention some eye-catching mountain scenery. MT


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