Gallic made-for-TV farce about a successful 30-year-old son's belated coming out, told from the stunned parents' p.o.v., veers abruptly from coyly corny to flat-out grotesque to warmly liberating.

Gallic made-for-TV farce about a successful 30-year-old son’s belated coming out, told from the stunned parents’ p.o.v., veers abruptly from coyly corny to flat-out grotesque to warmly liberating. Script by Nicolas Mercier, whose popular, quirky French TV series “Clara Sheller” similarly sabotages unity of tone, is helmed by Regis Musset in broad, conventional strokes. Even Charlotte de Turckheim’s fantastic perf as the mother, sent off on her own voyage of self-discovery, is unable to transcend the pic’s pat facility. Already available on DVD, “Times Have Been Better,” NewFest’s foreign feature winner, nonetheless offers a change of pace for gay fests.

Normally chipper dad (Bernard Le Coq), an enlightened liberal, goes completely off the deep end after meeting his son’s lover, who is closer to his own age than his son’s. He bitterly lashes out at his wife, wishes his offspring dead and generally alienates everyone in sight, his reactions decreasingly funny and increasingly pathological. Meanwhile, Turckheim’s anxious, supportive mother races around town taking a crash course in homosexuality, her natural warmth and intelligence, momentarily freed from the shackles of matrimony, taking wing. Production is pro all the way.

Times Have Been Better

France

Production

A Picture This! Entertainment release of a BB Films production, with the participation of France 2, RTL TVI, Be Films. Produced by Patrick Benedek, Thomas Bourguignon. Directed by Regis Musset. Screenplay, Nicolas Mercier.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-DV), Christophe Paturange; editor, Diane Logan; music, Sebastien Souchois. Reviewed at NewFest, New York, June 6, 2007. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Charlotte de Turckheim, Bernard Le Coq, Arnaud Binard, Franck de la Personne, Olivier Gueritee, Stephane Boucher.
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