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The writer Pierre Carot became rich and famous with his book "Life as a Couple", which was based on the loving relationships of four couples. Now he's setting up his will and wants to leave his wealth to the couples among the four, which are still as deeply in love - if any: else, his companions get the money. He sends them out to visit the couples and test their love. —Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
"La vie à deux" is the last screenplay written by Sacha Guitry. In this script, devised to be his testament, Guitry clearly chooses his heirs, not those who wish to make money out of his dead body (represented in the film by greedy Jean Tissier and Gilbert Bokanowski) but the woman (the adoration of his whole life) and the spectator (present and future). To this end, he has imagined a (thin) plot meant to revisit several of his plays ("Désiré", "L'illusionniste", "Une paire de claques", "Le blanc et le noir", "Françoise") in which two dimwitted genealogists (Jacques Jouanneau and Christian Duvaleix) are entrusted to check whether four happy couples who inspired him for his plays still live in bliss after all those years... Guitry originally planned to act and direct as usual, unfortunately he, who was too ill to complete his former film "Les trois font la paire " (1957), died before production was even started. Clément Duhour, a former actor turned producer and close friend to Guitry since 1951, seemed the obvious choice, all the more as he had co-directed Guitry's final film. Not so obvious when you consider the result. Of course, Duhour proves perfectly respectful and faithful to the master and he has managed to convince quite an impressive number of prestigious actors (most of whom being familiars of Guitry's theater and cinema) to appear before his cameras. But the pleasure of their company is not enough in this uneven film. The problem lies in Clément Duhour's incapacity to create magic and fascination. Luckily, a few of the performers manage to bring their character to life, the best being Gérard Philipe, irresistible as Désiré, the perfect butler who can't help falling in love with the women who hire her. Lilli Palmer is fine as well as the light companion of a French minister, Fernandel rather convincing in the difficult role of a white father whose wife gives him a ... Black baby! And Pierre Brasseur has the charisma required for being a Guitry substitute. But Jean Richard is absolutely inadequate as the man divorcing his wife because of his ... mother-in-law, Edwige Feullère is too stiff and cold for her role. And there is no real chemistry between Jean Marais as the illusionist and Lilli Palmer, the woman he is supposed to enchant by his lies. The so-so quality of Clément Duhour's direction should not stop you from watching "La vie à deux" though. For if, as I said before, the pleasure of their company is not enough, it still IS a pleasure to see Brasseur, Desmarets, Darrieux, de Funès, Fernandel, Philipe, etc. gathered together in the same film.
- Jan 21, 2011
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