Produced by Bruno Pesery. Executive producer, Xavier Castano.
Directed by Gabriel Aghion. Screenplay, Daniele Thompson, Aghion, based on a story idea by Jean-Marie Duprez. Camera (color, widescreen), Romain Winding; editor, Luc Barnier; music, Bruno Coulais; art director, Dan Weil. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, Apr. 5, 1999. Running time: 99 MIN.
With: Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Lindon, Mathilde Seigner, Line Renaud, Stephane Audran, Daniele Lebrun, Jean Yanne, Idris Elba, Artus de Penguern, Francoise Lepine.
Crass, choppy, atrociously lit but a local mini-hit, “Belle Maman” is a monument to strained insouciance. Contrived tale of a lawyer who falls for his bride’s mother puts way too much faith in the supposedly foolproof charms of thesps Catherine Deneuve and Vincent Lindon, and even more in endless reaction shots mired in gay-inflected “humor.” Helmer and co-writer Gabriel Aghion hit comic pay dirt with comedy “Pedale douce” (What a Drag) in 1996, but not here.
Antoine (Lindon) is exchanging vows with pregnant Severine (Mathilde Seigner) when he spots Severine’s mom, Lea (Deneuve). A news anchor who abandoned her family when Severine was 1, Lea lives in the Bahamas with black stud Gregoire (Idris Elba). Lea and Antoine pretend to deny their mutual attraction with all the subtlety of a silent melodrama. Pic then limps to the Bahamas (repped by Martinique) to celebrate the 70th birthday of Lea’s cigar-smoking lesbian mom, Nicou (Line Renaud), whom she serenades with a semi-rap tune. Only thesps who don’t seem as stranded as beached whales are Renaud and Stephane Audran (as Nicou’s semi-senile lover). Other perfs are stagy at best and cringe-making at worst.