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Our Precious Children

A well-observed, moderately amusing ensembler, "Our Precious Children" puts three thirtyish couples with kids and one bachelor in a vacation house and watches the sparks fly. Thesps are distinctive and kiddies are ever-present props in interlocking relationship comedy told with economy on all fronts.

With:
With: Mathieu Demy, Romane Bohringer, Laurence Cote, Julien Boisselier, Mathias Mlekuz , Fabio Zenoni, Eleonore Pourriat

A well-observed, moderately amusing ensembler, “Our Precious Children” puts three thirtyish couples with kids and one bachelor in a vacation house and watches the sparks fly. Thesps are distinctive and kiddies are ever-present props in interlocking relationship comedy told with economy on all fronts. After “Chameleon” (1996) and “Actors Anonymous” (2001), Benoit Cohen continues to refine his knack for unpretentious storytelling with residual bite. Pic — which is viewed as the summer’s word-of-mouth sleeper — should travel with ease in Europe and is a candidate for contempo French film sidebars.

When low-key Martin (Mathieu Demy) runs into his ex-g.f. Constance (Romane Bohringer) five years after their break-up, he never dreams she’ll pop in at his family’s vacation house with her jovially macho hubby Arnaud (Mathias Mlekuz) and their two kids. Bitchy Ariane (Laurence Cote), Martin’s wife of two years who has refused sex since giving birth to their adorable 4-month-old, is not amused, but Arnaud has no idea Constance and Martin were once an item. Martin — who bakes, does laundry, feeds the baby and tries to practice the cello — falls for Constance anew.

Ariane’s best friend, single mom Claire (co-scripter Eleonore Pourriat) shows up with her new boyfriend Jean-Marc (Fabio Zenoni). Since her kid’s dad split and every subsequent male prospect has dumped her upon learning she’s a mom, Claire has convinced bachelor Simon (Julien Boisselier) to pretend the child is his while she frolics with her new squeeze.

Running gag, which functions very nicely, is that everybody keeps telling sweetly domesticated Martin he’s got a great marriage, a great house, and a great kid when all he wants is a second try with Constance.

Script, which dares to question whether marriage and kids are a surefire recipe for happiness, does a good job of suggesting the ways in which the demands of parenthood can outweigh the rewards for some. All thesps except Cote and Bohringer were in Cohen’s previous film and the stock company aura works to pic’s advantage. Mostly handheld lensing is casually communicative and score is highly appealing.

Our Precious Children

France

Production: A Pyramide Distribution release of an Attention Moteur!, Shadows Films production with participation of Cine Cinemas. (International sales: Flach Pyramide, Paris.) Produced by Veronique Rofe, Frederic Bal, Benoit Cohen. Directed by Benoit Cohen. Screenplay, Cohen, Eleonore Pourriat.

Crew: Camera (color, DV to 35mm), Bertrand Mouly; editor, Marine Deleu; music, Jean-Philippe Goude; art director, Karima Rekhamdji; costume designer, Anne Laval; assistant director, Leonard Vindry; casting, Philippe Page, Swan Pham. Reviewed at UGC Odeon, Paris, July 8, 2003. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Mathieu Demy, Romane Bohringer, Laurence Cote, Julien Boisselier, Mathias Mlekuz , Fabio Zenoni, Eleonore Pourriat

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