5 May 2008 | guy-bellinger
Promises more than it delivers
On paper the synopsis of this second movie by Léa Fazer ("Bienvenue en Suisse") looks very exciting. Indeed, this is the story of Margot and Victor, a couple of lawyers working for the same law firm, told twice, the story varying according to the premise that either he or she has been promoted to the rank of associate to the manager. This is of course not the first time that the device of two (or more) alternative realities has been used but seeing one alleged "reality" from several different angles is always thought-provoking. That's why I expected much from "Notre Univers impitoyable".
To tell the truth, my feelings after viewing the film, are mixed. I didn't really disliked it but I was a bit let down, possibly simply because I had had too high expectations. Or else because the finished product delivered less than it promised. It is up to the reader to decide.
There is no reason to complain about the acting. The star couple Alice Taglioni & Jocelyn Quivrin (a real-life couple, the trendy thing to do of late!) is okay and Thierry Lhermitte just excels as the villain of the piece. He has a knack for underplaying the despicable characters he is wont to play that actually enhances their sins. But the two actors who shine here are Pascale Arbillot as the unstable Juliette, Margot's single mother sister, and Scali Delpeyrat as Margot and Victor's shy colleague.
There is also a fine satiric edge and the construction IS original, as the story changes course whenever one of the two heroes starts wondering how things could have been had HE or SHE been the chosen one.
And yet, despite these undeniable qualities, the result is not wholly satisfying. The reason, to my mind, is that the way Fazer tackles her subject remains somewhat shallow. She all too often resorts to clichés (Margot serving coffee, Victor and his Maserati), which is a waste of time. On the other hand she does not go deep enough into the way a law firm functions. The working environment is examined to greater length and to better effect in contemporary French film like "No Smoking", "Violence des Echanges en Milieu tempéré" or "99F".
All in all, not a masterpiece but a rather enjoyable flick for all that. Léa Fazer will certainly do better if she manages not to remain on the surface of things next time.