×

Toronto Film Review: ‘Un plus une’

Style prevails over substance, as usual, in this cheerfully retro romance from French helmer Claude Lelouch.

With:
Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein, Christophe Lambert, Alice Pol, Rahul Vohra, Venantino Venantini, Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1918911/

With five life partners and seven children under his belt along with a vast film oeuvre of surpassingly Gallic fluffiness, Claude Lelouch is back to let us know he’s still a fool for love. Well, loves to be exact, and the more, and more tortured, the merrier. “Un plus une,” a slow-burning, cheerfully retro romance between two strangers in a shamelessly exorcized India, should have considerable appeal for older audiences, depending on whether they rate Lelouch as a hopeless romantic or a hopeless misogynist working under cover of worshiping the opposite sex.

Let it be said that Lelouch’s lively co-writer is a woman, Valerie Perrin, and even the director has a quizzical eyebrow slightly raised at his own vanities here. But he also means every word of it, and if (like this critic in early adolescence) you judged “A Man and a Woman” the last word in lovelorn weepies, you’re going to like “Un plus une,” too. Like its star, Jean Dujardin, the film has scads of rascally elan, but you may have to take the afternoon off from your brain.

Those who think the hook-up was invented by millennials should meet Antoine (Dujardin), a middle-aged composer and dedicated one-night-stander, who’s on his way to India to score a locally made modern “Romeo and Juliet,” inventively retitled “Juliette and Romeo” to show off feminist tendencies. Back home, Antoine has promoted a much younger fling, Alice (Alice Pol), to fairly steady girlfriend, both because she “doesn’t bother me” and because she’s “myself with tits.” Unaware that he’s still an un in search of his une, Antoine falls, in excruciatingly slow motion and via cascades of disclaiming patter, for the more age-appropriate Anna (Elsa Zylberstein), wife to the French Ambassador (Christophe Lambert) in Delhi.

Much given to New Age prattle, Anna nonetheless has something that Antoine either lost or never had because he’s a mama’s boy bent on replicating his feckless absentee father (Venantino Venantini). Anna’s a believer, and because Antoine has a chronic headache of Great Existential Import and knows not which end is up, he joins her on a “fertility pilgrimage” to receive a hug from Amma, the famous Indian hugger here played by Herself.

Their road trip makes a lovely-looking journey, with fluid, lyrical camerawork by Robert Alazraki that complements the movie’s casual, loose-limbed rhythms as Antoine and Anna exchange yearning glances on planes, trains, and automobiles, and finally a Paris houseboat handsomely accessorized in shimmering silver. The rest is chatty filler — beguiling until it overflows and irritates — designed to nudge Antoine out of his self-protective iconoclasm into self-awareness.

The self-absorbed man-child must grow into a vrai homme, which would be fine were it not for the fact that Dujardin is more persuasive, and much more fun, as an overgrown kid than as a mature man. The actor has the bonhomie of Gene Kelly and the less wholesome allure of Richard Gere. He has physical grace to burn, and terrific teeth. He’s also a great, if slightly predatory comic improviser, throwing a proprietary arm around one Indian bus traveler and tickling the feet of another on an overcrowded train.

Antoine is vivid and seductive, but Dujardin plays more to the gallery than to his amiable co-star Zylberstein, who’s forever brushing stray hairs from her porcelain face and is little more than a slightly vaporous foil for his throwaway lines. Antoine is a type in a movie that traffics in types: Men are lovable scamps; a woman is “a perfected man;” India is a travelogue paradise filled with joyfully dancing slum dwellers readying themselves for the next life. As ever in the pantheon of Claude Lelouch, glam style prevails over substance.

Toronto Film Review: 'Un plus une'

Reviewed at Rodeo screening room, Beverly Hills, Sept. 3, 2015. Running time: 113 MIN.

Production: (France) A Metropolitan Filmexport (in France) release and presentation of a Les Films 13, Davis Films, JD Prod., France 2 Cinema production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Plus, France Televisions. (International sales: Mister Smith Entertainment, London.) Produced by Samuel Hadida, Victor Hadida, Marc Dujardin, Claude Lelouch. Executive producer, Jean-Paul de Vidas.

Crew: Directed by Claude Lelouch. Screenplay, Claude Lelouch, Valerie Perrin. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Robert Alazraki; editor, Stephane Mazalaigue; music, Francis Lai; costume designer, Christel Birot; sound, Harald Maury, Jean Gargonne; line producer, Remi Bergman; assistant director, Michael Pierrard.

With: Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein, Christophe Lambert, Alice Pol, Rahul Vohra, Venantino Venantini, Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma.

More Film

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content