5 November 2013 | guy-bellinger
A setback for Danièle Thompson
Danièle Thompson CAN make good films, as evidenced by at least two of the few she directed (she is a much more prolific screenwriter than director), "Season's Beatings" (La bûche), the caustic portrait of a dysfunctional family artificially reunited for the inevitable Christmas party, and "Orchestra Seats" (Fauteuils d'orchestre), the bittersweet chronicle of a group of art lovers centering around a young waitress freshly arrived from her province. "Des gens qui s'embrassent", her last work to date, could - and should - have been added to the list of her achievements, as the subject she deals with is rich in dramatic and philosophical possibilities. By getting death into a wedding party (a celebration and a promise of life if any), which she already did in the script of Patrice Chéreau's "Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train" (Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train"), Danièle Thompson gave herself the means of mixing the tragic with the comic, the profound with the superficial. Alas, "Des gens qui s'embrassent" promises much but delivers... almost nothing. To be frank, Danièle Thompson's last baby is no "Four Weddings and a Funeral", the perfect model of its type. Sure, one brother must bury his deceased wife just as the other one is marrying his daughter, but where is the fun ?, where is the insight ? Agreed, there is a confrontation between two Jewish brothers, one austere and rigorist (Éric Elmosnino), the other easy-going and profligate (Kad Merad), but the whole thing remains theoretical and superficial. The real trouble is that the writer- director seems much more fascinated by filming the glittering of the jet set lifestyle and of Saint-Tropez, its unavoidable safe haven, than by reflecting on life choices, as she should have. It is all the more regrettable as, though she had set "Orchestra Seats" in about the same background, she had had a much more critical and relevant approach. In the present case, there is not much to save in this unexciting mess. On the whole, "Des gens qui s'embrassent" is nothing but a blindingly obvious story suffused with photo story sentimentality and peopled by bland characters. The exceptions to this rule are a vivid scene on a train at the beginning of the film enlivened by the charm of Lou de Lâage, a wonderfully sensitive young actress, and the unexpected performance by the famous violin player Ivry Gitlis, who at he age of 90, has a ball in playing the eccentric grandfather losing his memory. Much too little to attract large audiences, the way the other Danièle Thompson movies did. The film quickly disappeared from the screens. For good reasons...