×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Palm Springs Film Review: ‘Just to Be Sure’

Coastal Brittany harbors plenty of parental secrets in this winning ensemble comedy about relationships.

Director:
Carine Tardieu
With:
Francois Damiens, Cecile De France, Guy Marchand, Andre Wilms, Alice de Lencquesaing, Esteban, Lyes Salem, Sam Karmann, Brigitte Rouan

1 hour 40 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5629340/reference

Moving from the teenage and pre-adolescent terrain of her prior features (“In Mom’s Head,” “The Dandelions”) to relatively grownup protagonists, Carine Tardieu’s “Just to be Sure” is nonetheless once again all about problematic parental relationships. This bright ensemble comedy ponders nature vs. nurture from several character viewpoints, principally that of Francois Damiens as a middle-aged man who suddenly discovers his biological father may be someone other than “Dad.” Cleverly written and winningly cast, it’s already opened in several territories. More should follow, and remake rights might be in demand eventually.

Bearish but generally even-tempered Erwan is in a literally explosive business: His Brittany-based firm finds, extracts and/or detonates old bombs and other buried hazards left over from wars of yore. Such work requires steady nerves. Meanwhile, Erwan’s 23-year-old daughter Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing) seems to be all capricious impulse — she’s managed to get herself pregnant without knowing who the father is. (Much alcohol and a costume party were involved.) In the course of routine medical testing to see if the baby has any hereditary health concerns, Erwan is dumbfounded to learn that his elderly fisherman pa Bastien (Guy Marchant) isn’t — indeed, can’t be — his real father. He hires a private detective (Brigitte Rouan, a bit over the top) to find out who really is dear old Dad, and with alarming speed the PI finds evidence that points to a man living just a few miles down the road.

Erwan can’t stop himself from curiously stalking, then chatting up gregarious lifelong activist Joseph (Andre Wilms), to whom he soon blurts out the assumed “truth.” This new friend is at first suspicious, but quickly warms to the idea of having a son, particularly as the two get along so well. However, Joseph is loath to tell his daughter about this surprise development, just as Erwan can’t bring himself to tell his father (whose late wife presumably cheated on him) what he’s discovered.

Meanwhile, more secrets pile up when our hero stumbles upon evidence that his imminent grandson’s sperm donor might be none other than Didier (the single-named Esteban), the harebrained youth Juliette finagled him into hiring as a charity case. And life gets still more complicated when Anna (Cecile De France), the temperamental but cute veterinarian Erwan meets by chance, turns out to be Joseph’s daughter — turning their new romance into a probably-incestuous minefield.

The lively, intricate screenplay by Tardieu, Raphaele Moussafir and Michel Leclerc (with Baya Kasmi billed as an additional “collaborator”) is deft enough to seldom seem over-contrived, maintaining a tone of witty naturalism that accommodates some touching moments as well as the broader stoner humor of Esteban’s role. The latter comes very close to being too much of a cartoon, yet it’s to the film’s credit that ultimately every character proves likable and unpredictable. If things get just a tad treacly toward the end, Tardieu & co. wisely return to comedy and a lighter shade of warmth before the fadeout.

Belgian thesp Damiens floats this enterprise with just the right amount of harried Everyman appeal. De France hits a bit too abrasive a screwball note at first, but her performance gains charm in equal measure to its chemistry with her co-star. Storied veterans Marchand and Wilms are excellent as two quite different but equally sympathetic father figures.

“Just to be Sure” is pleasantly accomplished on all levels, from the attractive visual packaging to some amusing soundtrack choices. The latter include repeated use of a duet from “The Magic Flute” whose relevance only becomes clear over time.

Palm Springs Film Review: 'Just to Be Sure'

Reviewed online, Palm Springs, Jan. 10, 2018. (In Palm Springs Film Festival — World Cinema Now. Also in Cannes Film Festival.) Running time: 100 MIN. (Original title: “Otez-Moi d’un Doute.”)

Production: (France-Belgium) A Kare Prods. presentation of a Kare, SND and France 2 Cinema production. (International sales: SND-Groupe M6, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.) Producers: Antoine Rein, Fabrice Goldstein.

Crew: Director: Carine Tardieu. Screenplay: Tardieu, Raphaele Moussafir, Michel Leclerc, Baya Kasmi. Camera (color, HD): Pierre Cottereau. Editor: Christel Dewynter. Music: Erik Slabiak.

With: Francois Damiens, Cecile De France, Guy Marchand, Andre Wilms, Alice de Lencquesaing, Esteban, Lyes Salem, Sam Karmann, Brigitte Rouan

More Film

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala

    Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala: Mariah Carey, Kendall Jenner and Tiffany Trump

    Kendall Jenner caused a commotion when she arrived. Tiffany Trump went unrecognized until a member of the press pointed her out as she made her way down the carpet. And Mariah Carey flew in to perform a couple of songs. Welcome to this year’s AmfAR Gala Cannes, the AIDS organization’s annual — and largest — [...]

  • 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo' Review: Abdellatif

    Cannes Film Review: 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo'

    A simple but somehow atypical shot opens Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film: a serene closeup of a young woman’s face, as seen through the camera lens of Amir, a budding photographer still finding his perspective. Her expression is ambiguously tranquil, her long hair lightly rustled by a humid breeze, all softly lit by a sinking afternoon [...]

  • Crown Vic

    Thomas Jane's Police Thriller 'Crown Vic' Sells to Screen Media (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has bought North American rights to writer-director Joel Souza’s police crime-thriller “Crown Vic,” starring Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank. The distributor closed terms during the Cannes Film Festival amid a competitive bidding situation between seven other suitors. Screen Media plans to release the pic this fall. “Crown Vic” premiered in April at the [...]

  • Colleen Bell

    Colleen Bell Replaces Amy Lemisch as California Film Commission Director

    Veteran entertainment executive and ambassador Colleen Bell will replace Amy Lemisch as director of the California Film Commission. Bell, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, has worked as a consultant since 2017. She was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2014 to 2017. She held several positions at Bell-Phillip Television Productions, including [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content