C’est La Vie! ***

Dir: Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache | Cast: Jean-Pierre Bakri, Suzanne Clement, Gilles Lellouche | Comedy | France | 90′

Following their international success with Untouchable, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache are back again – this time with a comedy that fizzes with feelgood fun largely due to lead Jean Pierre Bacri and his signature brand of deadpan no-nonsense insouciance. He plays wedding planner Max whose days are dedicated to making any wedding a big success – even when mayhem is threatening to take over behind the scenes. Meanwhile he’s juggling an unhappy wife and a demanding girlfriend (Suzanne Clément).

Joining him in this well-structured occasionally funny affair are Gilles Lellouche, Benjamin Lavernhe and Jean-Paul Rouve. Hélène Vincent makes the most of her cameo role as the mother of the groom. The story follows Max and his employees as they organise a sumptuous wedding in a magnificent 17th century château. Side-shows in the form of short sketches add interest to the central narrative which focuses on the lavish wedding preparations for Pierre (Lavernhe) and Héléna (Judith Chemla). Predictably, despite Max’s efforts to keep everything under control proceedings never go exactly to plan – to his chagrin.

Impeccable pacing aside, this is a mixed bag comedy-wise: some scenes are more amusing than others and there are some awkward moments. Gilles Lellouche makes a great success of his diva-like wedding singer as does Benjamin Lavernhe as the exacting groom. Less convincing is Rouve’s wedding photographer or Kevin Azais’ waiter with a sideline in off-duty policing. Bacri holds it all together with his superb delivery and timing as he tries to control his bolshy assistant Adèle (Eye Haidara). But the funniest scene is saved for the end as the party really kicks off when the groom’s efforts to surprise his new wife backfire – with hilarious results. MT


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