You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘It Boy’

A pacey romantic comedy that makes the most of the chemistry and star quality of ace leads Virginie Efira and Pierre Niney

Virginie Efira, Pierre Niney, Gilles Cohen, Amelie Glenn, Charles Berling, Michael Abiteboul, Camille Japy, Blanche Gardin, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Jenna Azoulay, Diana Stewart, Blanche Gardin, Scali Delpeyrat. (French, English dialogue)

An experienced but slightly wishy-washy French magazine editor transforms herself into a red-lipped, predatory cougar in order to get ahead in “It Boy,” a pacey romantic comedy that makes the most of the chemistry and star quality of ace leads Virginie Efira and Pierre Niney. After co-helming horror items “Them” and Jessica Alba starrer “The Eye,” Gallic director David Moreau not only goes solo here but also impressively switches gears with a brightly packaged, fluffy and often funny entertainment. Local March release is closing in on 1.4 million admissions and could serve as remake fodder and theatrical catnip for distribs offshore.

Alice Lantins (Efira), the 38-year-old fashion editor at the (fictional) Rebelle magazine, is a perfectionist, as seen in an opening sequence in which she tries to reason with a Brazilian printer about the exact colors she wants on the page. She’s extremely demanding, but she would also rather be safe than sorry. That’s why her boss, fey publisher Vincent (Gilles Cohen), isn’t convinced she’s editor-in-chief material, unlike her more fun and playful colleague, Lise (Amelie Glenn), a Quebecoise with a stripper past who, even by movie standards, seems a bit too untamed to survive for long in a deadline culture.

Things start to look up when Alice manages to locate 19-year-old student Balthazar (Niney), who sat next to her on the plane back from Brazil and who found her lost USB drive with plans for the mag. There’s only one problem: Ever since Alice squeezed him to mush during a bout of heavy turbulence, Balthazar has been convinced there’s more going on between the two of them. Add to that a photo that makes it seem as though they’re getting extremely cozy, and suddenly Alice, the consummate pro, has the reputation of a man-eater — or rather a boy-eater, since there’s an almost 20-year age difference between them (as suggested by the French title).

But Alice’s newfound cougar reputation serves her well, as Vincent suddenly sees a rebellious streak in her that was previously absent. With her eye on that promotion, Alice decides to don a black leather jacket and play along, much to the initial amusement of Balthazar, who can’t believe his luck.

It’s a classic comedy setup, and the script by Moreau and Amro Hamzawi generally hits the right notes, even if they’re sometimes predictable ones. Highlights include Alice and Balthazar’s first coupling and a dinner party at the home of Alice’s antsy sibling (Camille Japy), who’s invited a gynecologist (Scali Delpeyrat) who she thinks would be a suitable companion for her sister instead. Efira (“Second Chance,” “My Worst Nightmare”) has a particular talent for transmitting thoughts and eliciting laughs using facial expressions alone, a gift that gets another glorious workout here.

Less convincing are the film’s attempts to say something broader about relationships between men and women of different ages, as both Balthazar’s old man (Charles Berling) and Alice’s ex-b.f. (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) have much younger girlfriends, too. The script seems unsure of its footing here, retreating into easy laughs that only serve to dilute any point about double standards based on age and gender.

Niney (“Romantics Anonymous”) doesn’t look two decades younger than Efira, but the couple’s chemistry and acting chops largely paper over this inconvenience. Supporting thesps are all solid, including Diana Stewart as a Miranda Priestley-esque superboss-from-hell. Widescreen camerawork, heavy on the expressive closeups, is as crisp as Cyril Besnard’s editing, which is crucial to maintaining momentum and landing laughs. Guillaume Roussel’s orchestral score is in light-comedy mode throughout.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'It Boy'

Reviewed at Le Trianon, Romainville, France, April 24, 2013. Running time: 92 MIN. Original title: "20 ans d'ecart"

Production: (France) A Europacorp release and presentation of an Echo Films production, in association with TF1 Films Prod., Europacorp. (International sales: Europacorp Intl., Paris.) Produced by Abel Nahmias.

Crew: Directed by David Moreau. Screenplay, Moreau, Amro Hamzawi, based on an idea by Hamzawi. Camera (color, Panavision widescreen, 35mm), Laurent Tangy; editor, Cyril Besnard; music, Guillaume Roussel; production designer, Jean Rabasse; costume designer, Isabelle Pannetier; sound (Dolby SRD), Lucien Balibar; assistant director, William Pruss; casting, Guillaume Moulin, David Baranes.

With: Virginie Efira, Pierre Niney, Gilles Cohen, Amelie Glenn, Charles Berling, Michael Abiteboul, Camille Japy, Blanche Gardin, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Jenna Azoulay, Diana Stewart, Blanche Gardin, Scali Delpeyrat. (French, English dialogue)

More Film

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” in front, Chinese-made action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend. Although a few American titles are in play, they’ve failed to attract a crowd.  Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content