Saturday, September 17, 2005

FILM: Côte d'Azur (Crustacés et Coquillages)

This amusing French farce is a very light-hearted treatment of parents coming to terms with their late-teenage children's sexuality, not to mention their own. Marc and Beatrix are the parents of Charly and Laura. Marc is a conscientious father, and while not an uptight moralist, he is a bit alarmed by his children becoming sexual. Beatrix, on the other hand, has a liberal laissez-faire attitude (which she attributes to having had a Dutch mother, as if that explains everything). Marc has inherited a seaside home from his great-aunt, which is the scene for their summer vacation and some summer love. Laura is running off for long escapades with boys on motorcycles, while everyone is waiting for Charly to finally come out of the closet, including his friend Martin, who is in love with him, and spending the summer with them. But Charly remains tantalizingly ambiguous (while taking long showers and using up all the hot water -- a running theme). Meanwhile, Beatrix has a lover who keeps popping up in the funniest of places, and Marc has some surprises of his own. The nocturnal hallway traffic in their Riviera villa gets as convoluted as any Shakespeare comedy. Aside from Dutch mothers and hot water, the local shellfish (particularly something called "violets") seem particularly aphrodisiacal.

The film was written and directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, the same pair who did Drôle de Félix (The Adventures of Felix) a few years back, and as in that film, they bring out some interesting characters. We get glimpses of teen angst, unrequited love, conflicting emotions, and difficult situations. But where Félix was all serious, this film has comic moments that will make you laugh and smile, and an overall very light-hearted tone. It even has a couple of corny musical numbers tossed in the middle and at the end. (It is surprising how the French really seem to appreciate corny touches.) This frothy soufflé of a film, like a summer love, may not be one you remember all your life, but you'll certainly enjoy it while it lasts. We were in need of a laugh last weekend, and it certainly provided an amusing distraction.

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