An ode to garden-variety goodness in which a sterling cast is put through borderline embarrassing paces, "It's Our Life!" is a jaw-droppingly strange portrait of a contemporary French village. Affectionate pic, set mostly in a cafe, immortalizes a side of French life as far from glamour, high-concept silliness or car chases as one can get, making it even more of an oddity for offshore exposure.

An ode to garden-variety goodness in which a sterling cast is put through borderline embarrassing paces, “It’s Our Life!” is a jaw-droppingly strange portrait of a contemporary French village. Affectionate pic, set mostly in a cafe, immortalizes a side of French life as far from glamour, high-concept silliness or car chases as one can get, making it even more of an oddity for offshore exposure. Sylvie Testud and Josiane Balasko completists will be thrilled.

Down-to-earth but leaden adaptation is by Gerard Krawczyk, who hit the jackpot as helmer of “Taxi 2″ and “Taxi 3″ (as well as “Wasabi” and the unnecessary “Fanfan la tulipe” remake that opened Cannes in 2003). Here he revisits the small-scale territory of his “L’ete en pente douce.”

Motormouth Louise (Testud) and her mother, Blanche (Balasko), bring the funeral of Blanche’s husband to a standstill by dialing the cell phone they put in the casket, convinced they can keep the departed apprised of events among the living. His heirs run a cafe on one side of the village square; Lucie Chevrier (Catherine Hiegel) and her daughters run the rival cafe opposite.

Congenital do-gooders Louise and Blanche take in children awaiting foster parents. Hard work with a smile is their guiding principle. But when striking truckers led by hunky Pierre (Eric Cantona) occupy the square, the routine of alcohol, gossip and stating-the-obvious is shaken up.

Depending on the viewer, leisurely antics can be read as a look at an enviably cohesive small community where the smallest ripple of activity generates excitement, or as a horror story about petty concerns in an inbred, godforsaken enclave.

Lensing fairly drips with the sun-drenched feeling of summer in the Savoie region.

It's Our Life!

France

Production

A Bac Distribution release of a Jean-Francois Lepetit and Gerard Krawczyk presentation of a Flach Film, Oz Production, France 2 Cinema, Rhone-Alpes Cinema, Topaze Bleue production. (International sales: Flach Film, Paris.) Produced by Jean-Francois Lepetit. Directed, written by Gerard Krawczyk, based on the novel "L'eau des fleurs" by Jean-Marie Gourio;

Crew

Camera (color), Gerard Sterin; editor, Nicolas Trembasiewicz; music, Alexandre Azaria; art director, Jean-Jacques Gernolle; costume designer, Fabienne Josserand; sound (Dolby), Vincent Tulli; assistant director, Alain Artur; casting, Swan Pham. Reviewed at UGC Orient Express, Paris, Dec 24, 2005. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Sylvie Testud, Josiane Balasko, Eric Cantona, Michel Muller, Catherine Hiegel, Danny Martinez, Carole Weiss, Maroussia Dubreuil, Celia Rosich.
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