Very Opposite Sexes

An ensemble comedy in which four former couples explain to a documaker how they first became involved and then became <I>un</I>-involved, "Very Opposite Sexes" has a universal quality born of pointed observation that bodes well for more fest exposure and eventual offshore hardtop play.

With:
Brigitte - Charlotte de Turckheim Fernand - Patrick Chesnais Annick - Elisa Tovati Cyril - Antoine Dulery Remi - Jean-Noel Broute Gabrielle - Veronique Boulanger Vanessa - Stephanie Lagarde Claude - Arnaud Simon Helene - Roxanne Mesquida

An ensemble comedy in which four former couples explain to a documaker how they first became involved and then became un-involved, “Very Opposite Sexes” has a universal quality born of pointed observation that bodes well for more fest exposure and eventual offshore hardtop play. Structured in intersecting segs to sustain audience interest, the multi-generational venture, which opened in Gaul July 11, is peppered with sardonic laughs.

Rabidly jealous Cyril (Antoine Dulery), 39, went so far as to buy an apartment he disliked in order to date Annick (Elisa Tovati), a 28-year-old realtor. Her quirks include listening to music with headphones while making love, on the grounds that “For me, music and sex go together — in the movies, whenever there’s a major sex scene, there’s always music.” The pair appears to have fertility problems.

Fiftysomething high school lit teacher Fernand (Patrick Chesnais, a model of deadpan comic timing) takes up with Vanessa (Stephanie Lagarde), a bouncy 26-year-old beautician who’s bowled over that he “reads actual books and everything.” But his life is disrupted when the most fetching of his underage charges, Helene (Roxanne Mesquida, from “Fat Girl” and “Sex Is Comedy”), announces she’s in love with him and bares her youthful breasts in the classroom.

Thirty-five-year-old Remi (Jean-Noel Broute) meets his upstairs neighbor Gabrielle (Veronique Boulanger, a Gallic cousin to Julie Haggerty) when her tub leaks into his bathroom. He lies about enjoying her execrable violin playing and tries to extricate himself from the relationship almost as soon as it begins. She’s cloying, needy and thinking about babies. His timorous ruses for discouraging her enthusiasms are spot on.

Finally, forthright young grandmother Brigitte (Charlotte de Turckheim) picks up aimless 27-year-old Claude (Arnaud Simon) at a gallery opening and blithely has her way with him until another gent catches her roving eye. Brigitte’s expedient technique for ditching a lover is hilariously brusque.

Sophomore helmer Eric Assous (“People in Bathing Suits Aren’t Necessarily Shallow”) is a successful playwright whose dialogue credits include last year’s surprise hit, “The Girl From Paris” (“Une hirondelle a fait le printemps”), recently sold for U.S. remake, “Love Tangles” and “La femme defendue.” Current effort’s range of approaches to sex and quasi-romance is varied, quasi-poignant and consistently amusing.

Lensed without arty flourishes, the well-cast and fast-paced pic remains refreshingly clear despite a potentially confusing structure. At the end of the day, Assous remains cautiously pessimistic about the likelihood of any two people remaining interested in one another for long.

Very Opposite Sexes

France-Belgium

Production: A K'ien release of a K'ien Prods., Link's Prods., AT-Prod. production, with participation of Canal Plus, Natexis Banques Populaires Images, Gimages 4. (International sales: Mercure Distribution, Paris.) Produced by David Kodsi. Executive producer, Jean-Michel Quilici. Directed, written by Eric Assous.

Crew: Camera (color), Gilles Henry; editor, Anne Aravecchi; music, Jean-Claude Petit; art director, Paul Fayard; costume designer, Karine Serrano; sound (Dolby), Michel Lesaffre, Philippe Baudhuin; assistant director, Nicolas Guillemot. Reviewed at Avignon Film Festival (competing), France, June 24, 2002. (Also in Philadelphia Film Festival.) Running time: 82 MIN.

With: Brigitte - Charlotte de Turckheim Fernand - Patrick Chesnais Annick - Elisa Tovati Cyril - Antoine Dulery Remi - Jean-Noel Broute Gabrielle - Veronique Boulanger Vanessa - Stephanie Lagarde Claude - Arnaud Simon Helene - Roxanne MesquidaWith: Philippe Harel, Didier Flamand, Yves Renier.

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