This review was updated on Jan. 12, 2005.
Refreshingly inventive and pleasingly silly, “The Best Day of My Life” is a relationship comedy-cum-disaster flick about trying to stay sane during the countdown to a wedding. Unlike many recent Gallic would-be laugh-fests, this chuckle-filled romp boasts appealing characters in genuinely incongruous situations – situations that hang together against all odds. Sharp dialogue and a full catalog of knowing glances round out debut helmer Julie Lipinski’s fest-ready pic that could inspire some foreign distribs to say “I do.”
Journalist Arthur (Jonathan Zaccai) and pharmacist Lola (Helene de Fougerolles) have been living together for five years when their friends Paul (Alexandre Brasseur) and Andrea (Annelise Hesme) announce they’re getting married. Fellow dinner guests Leonore (Valerie Donzelli) and her latest b.f., druggy Theo (Stephane Metzger), spontaneously decide to tie the knot as well.
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When Arthur fails to follow suit and pop the question, Lola sulks. But after a trial separation, they reunite and set the date for June 21 — six months away. Having resolved to have a small, fun, intimate ceremony, Lola and Arthur find their initial plans thwarted every step of the way. The night before the wedding, several lifetimes worth of obstacles converge to excellent comic effect.
Lipinski co-wrote the screenplay with former film journo Laurent Tirard, whose “The Story of My Life” was one of the more commercially promising first films of 2004. Strong suit of current script is its gallery of distinctive characters who lend themselves to crisp comic shorthand. Lola’s mom (Marisa Berenson), a divorcee and staunch feminist, disapproves of marriage; Lola’s rogue of a dad (Francois Berleand) resents commitment of any kind; and Arthur’s family in Belgium is so hemmed in by old money and traditional values they may as well be stuffed and mounted beside the hunting trophies in the ancestral manse.
Well-cast venture blends cultural specificity with universal themes to explore the ways in which even couples who were made for each other can be torpedoed by everything from classic expectations to carefree spontaneity. Humor quotient is reinforced by an unusually high number of wacky costumes for an otherwise modest pic. Animated interludes are another offbeat plus.