Though it features balls and babies in about equal measure, distaff Gallic dramedy “Bowling” is an otherwise uneven effort from scribe-helmer Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar. Loosely inspired by the true story of the threatened closure of a Brittany maternity ward that caused a town to rise up in protest, the pic tries to forge a coherent whole from such motley elements as an underdog all-girls sports team, humorous driving-lesson-related setpieces, social-provincial prejudices and sudser-level relationship problems. Comedy-craving femme auds made the pic a decent summer hit locally, though beyond Francophone spheres, this won’t quite strike B.O. gold.Driving license-free, Catherine (Catherine Frot) is a stuck-up Parisian HR manager who has to reorganize a Breton hospital where not enough children are born to keep the delivery unit profitable. Midwife Mathilde (Mathilde Seigner), her ward colleague Firmine (Firmine Richard) and their friend Louise (Laurence Arne), invite Catherine to join their bowling clique, initially unaware of her exact duties. Loyalties are tested, pregnancies abound and cliches are mostly affirmed. Countless musical montage pieces provide on-cue uplift while simultaneously struggling to bridge severe tonal inconsistencies. Distaff chemistry is, at least, infectious; the Breton countryside gorgeous.
A Pathe Distribution release of a Loma Nasha Films, Pathe, TF1 Films Prod., Lorette Prods. production. (International sales: Pathe Intl., Paris.) Produced by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, Pierre Kubel, Jerome Seydoux. Co-producer, Romain Le Grand. Directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar. Screenplay, Mention-Schaar, Jean-Marie Duprez, based on an idea by Duprez.
Camera (color, HD), Myriam Vinocour; editor, Hugues Darmois; music, Erwann Kermorvant; production designer, Herald Najar; costume designer, Melanie Gautier; sound, Dominique Levert; line producer, Pascal Ralite; associate producer, Florian Genetet-Morel; assistant director, Zazie Carcedo; casting, Emmanuelle Prevost. Reviewed at Gaumont Parnasse, Paris, Aug. 21, 2012. Running time: 90 MIN.
Catherine Frot, Mathilde Seigner, Firmine Richard, Laurence Arne, Francois Bureloup, Mathias Mlekuz, Genevieve Mnich, Frederic Noaille, Julien Crampon, Gilles Bataille, Eric Naggar, Alex Lutz. (French, Bretton dialogue)