IT'S TIME! Or rather, seeing how quickly Amazon.ca shipped out the Region 1 DVDs, asta77 and I figured enough time had passed for folks on both sides of the Atlantic to receive a copy so we could open a discussion thread for Un jour mon père viendra. Has it been worth the wait? Let's put it this way - there will be discussion. But I think we can all happily agree that the world needs more opportunities for giant, adorable dopey grins like this one...
If you haven't ordered your DVD yet, here are those links again: Region 1 (Canada) | Region 2 (France)
(Also, more swim trunks with turtles on them. Who doesn't love turtles?! ;))
(Also, more swim trunks with turtles on them. Who doesn't love turtles?! ;))
Hustle back here and pitch in your thoughts when you get it. This thread isn't going anywhere. ;)
On with the show, then?...
I guess I'll get us started. Right off the bat: I'm still damned happy Jamie finally did a comedy. Fingers crossed the wait for the next one won't be so awfully long. He's almost unfeasibly handsome in it, and he gets to be goofy and charming and has a couple of really fine, funny moments and he hardly ever gets to do that, so HURRAH!
As for the movie as a whole... Ultimately it is about the two fathers and their coming to terms with their past actions. Gustave is easier to embrace, despite his past mistakes, than Bernard, and both actors give good performances but I did like Jugnot's slightly better. (Maybe I'm just inclined to prefer the big-hearted serial frak-up over the good-hearted but emotionally challenged fussbudget. Especially if he can cook. ;) ) I have to say one of the aspects of the script I loved is the way that while Stephen frets over his inability to bond with who he thinks Chloe's father is (and Bernard can't catch a break), the man she grew up believing to be her father bonds with him almost immediately, and he doesn't even realize it. :) But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Because it's the dads' story, to that end the relationship between Chloe and Stephen is more functional than it would be if the movie were about them. We're told how they met, how long they've been together, and she seems to have been good for him (i.e. encouraging him to pursue things which make him happy that he was never able to do under his father's thumb). Jean-Felix pointedly tells Bernard when he arrives, "I've never seen him this happy." Still, I struggled for a stronger sense of what attracted these two to each other. And I wouldn't pin that on either Jamie or Olivia (I've read some criticism of her performance, but honestly I thought Olivia was just fine).
The tone of the film is so light and airy, even when dealing with subjects like death, that it almost doesn't allow any significant romance. (Well, it's light but for one glaring exception, I'll get to THAT in a minute...) For example, after Bernard kicks Stephen out of the bedroom, when Chloe starts talking about how she's going to slip into his room later we could have had a couple of seconds where he is seduced by the idea and kind of goes along with it, then decides "NO, no, we can't and here's why..." Same when he snogs her next to the pool and she pushes him away a little too abruptly. Yeah, I know, the reaction you'd expect from a Jamie fan is "Girrrl, look at that. You're gonna push that away? So what if he's getting your dress wet, his name is on the towels, he can afford to buy you TEN MORE DRESSES." But that's not the point!... basically, it just felt to me like the movie could have let them be... sexier, if that makes any sense. (You could argue that UJMPV really is less a romantic comedy than it is a buddy movie that happens to have a wedding in it. ;) It has elements of both, but one feels more dominant for sure.)
I just made a joke about Stephen's wealth because bwahahaha, his NAME is on the TOWELS you guys. ;) It's ridiculous and adorable. His being so rich, though, feeds into another issue, namely that Chloe's character seems too defined by her laser-guided focus on having this picture perfect princess wedding. It doesn't help that Suzanne is written as a stock supportive best friend who constantly echoes that focus (and has a running gag about also being on the prowl for a rich athlete for herself.) Also Chloe is so tense all the time because she is constantly afraid of being found out, so IMO she comes off less likeable than she should be because the script doesn't allow her enough chances to behave otherwise.
So ultimately because Chloe & Stephen's wedding is incidental to a larger narrative, it doesn't feel as though their story is quite as fleshed out as it could be. You kind of want to know more about why these two fell in love. For one thing, from what we're told there is a not-insignificant age difference. (I don't necessarily react in a knee-jerk way to age differences, but 13 years seemed a bit lengthy here. Olivia's actually 32.) Also, at least initially, a language barrier they had to overcome. So what did they have in common? Without that, and because Chloe demonstrably holds the perfect wedding thing in such high esteem, I found that a little problematic. Is she marrying him because he's hot and rich and adores her, or because she's in love with him? (No, you shouldn't have to think too hard with light comedies... but if there are gaps in the storytelling, the gears just keep turning. ;) )
Moving on... Oh, the not-light-at all scene. When the dads run into the first actor Chloe picked - from a storytelling perspective, I'm fine with the way in which it sets up the necessity of Bernard stepping in to "play" Chloe's dad, but while I was tipped off to the idea of actor-dude being a creep... I wasn't prepared for exactly what a nasty, rapey creep he actually is. That bit was SO jarring because as I pointed out before, there really aren't any other terribly risque moments in the movie, so it felt plonked in out of left field. There's no need for him to all but describe an imminent sexual assault in that moment, you could have gotten away with him being a teeny bit more "Phoarr, aye? Aye? Nudge, nudge, wink wink" and gotten the exact same point across. (Was I the only one who thought this?)
I'm sure others will bring up stuff worth dissecting, so to backtrack from critiques a bit... Jamie. Can't complain. ;) OK, I did have a couple of very brief moments of "ooh, dial it back, JB" (The proverb-off after the tasting scene is a teeny bit over the top, but not unforgiveably so!), but overall his comic timing continues to impress. (The double-take when he walks back into the bedroom and Bernard is there is GOLD. Hilarious.) And there's range! - he really sells the scene where Stephen finds out the truth and is crushed that he's been lied to all this time.
(Not to mention he's particularly gorgeous in that scene. I mean JESUS, Bamber, control yourself.
A woman's gotta breathe from time to time.)
And obviously though it's odd for all of us to hear him not speak French to the best of his ability because we know he can do better ;)... It can't be underlined enough that to fake an foreign accent (American) while speaking an entirely separate foreign language (French) is not at all easy, yet he nails it. Almost... I noticed one moment in particular where his accent sounded more Jamie than Stephen, but it's brief - anyone want to wager a guess, see if you caught it too? (The rest of the time, boy... those hard R's are so hard, I'm surprised he didn't break a tooth on them. "meRRRveilleuse" - tee hee!)
Couple more thoughts...
- One element of Chloe/Stephen that is really cute is the fussing over the music. Although let's be honest, Stephen... you have no leg to stand on criticizing The Bangles (even if it is their least interesting song) when your arrangements include a super-hairy dude playing Scorpions ON A PAN FLUTE. ;)
- Once Stephen starts going on about playing the clarinet I was hoping to see that... and then it happened off camera? Booo. Still cute, but... booo! (On the plus side, that second shirtless scene - SEE ABOVE - is so cheekily gratuitous. It's almost as though they wrote their way out of the wine-tasting scene with Bernard getting sick specifically so they'd have a reason for Jamie to take his shirt off in the next scene. Bravo.)
- Wasn't all that jazzed by the songs by Puggy (the band who perform 90% of the songs in the film), but at the wedding when Stephen and Chloe have their big kiss... it's "Like Dylan in the Movies" by Belle & Sebastian. That made me smile, I adore Belle & Sebastian. ♥
Alright, I could go on but this post is now ludicrously long so ta very much if you read this far. Take the baton, somebody!
GO. DISCUSS. ALLONS-Y!!
p.s. - Yeah. MANY screencaps. (WinDVD, you make it too damn easy.) You can see them all HERE.