Following a substantive stint as Joachim Lafosse’s scripter, Francois Pirot makes a whisper-thin helming debut with “Mobile Home.” A sure eye for widescreen and the palpable charm of the two leads aren’t quite enough to give weight to this slight tale of a couple of immature friends whose dreams of freedom are stymied by their inability to enter into functional adulthood. Pleasantly respectable but no more, “Mobile” is unlikely to journey far outside home territories, though Pirot displays enough talent to warrant interest in future projects.
Two friends in the Belgian countryside live with their folks while dreaming of responsibility-free independence. Simon (Arthur Dupont) recently moved back in with his parents after splitting with Sylvie (Anne-Pascale Clairembourg), while Julien (Guillaume Gouix) never flew the coup, staying home to look after his ill father, Luc (Jean-Paul Bonnaire). Now that Dad is better, Julien can can start his own life, but freedom is a scary thing when you don’t know what to do with yourself.
Simon hits on the idea of buying a mobile home with money his parents (Claudine Pelletier, Jackie Berroyer) put aside for his future. Without sweating the details, he and Julien plan to travel around Europe in the camper while working as seasonal laborers. Preparations are only partly under way when the need for trailer repairs before leaving town requires them to take jobs uprooting trees at a nursery.
While thankfully less obnoxious than many a Judd Apatow character, both Simon and Julien are so trapped in superannuated adolescence that there’s little room for anything else in their personalities. Julien’s concern for his father betrays a glimmer of responsibility, yet Simon’s behavior rarely counters his mother’s infantilization. Auds won’t be surprised when he thinks of reforming his old rock band (Dupont has a pleasant singing voice), since the concept of a guitar-wielding man looking to recapture his youth is such a cliche. Less believable is the idea that Simon was ever in a long-term relationship.
With the concept stretched this thin, it’s often up to the perfs to maintain interest, and thankfully the two protags convey a likable ease. Gouix, in particular, in the less showy role, brings depth to a character whose uncertainty in all aspects of his life manages to avoid a sense of being merely wishy-washy.
Lensing is unhurried without being dull, employing long takes that help to capture the quiet pace of life in a Belgian village, the kind of town most Simons and Juliens dream of leaving. Pirot and d.p. Manuel Dacosse similarly take advantage of the widescreen framing to further the sense of place as well as the relationship between the leads, often inhabiting the same spaces without feeling too on top of each other, except in the confines of the mobile home.