×

Film Review: ‘The Trouble With You’

The versatile Adèle Haenel stars in this amiable, silly, and sparky French cops 'n' criminals comedy from director Pierre Salvadori.

Director:
The versatile Adèle Haenel stars in this amiable, silly, and sparky French cops 'n' criminals comedy from director Pierre Salvadori.
With:
Adèle Haenel, Pio Marmaï, Vincent Elbaz, Audrey Tautou, Damien Bonnard.

1 hour 47 minutes

A dingy apartment door is kicked in from the outside and a slick-looking detective bursts in brandishing a gun. Bullets fly, kicks are roundhoused, and the cop is put through an interior wall, resulting in his arms and fists fighting off one foe, while his flailing legs dispatch another in the next room over. This choppy, exaggerated melee is not the typical beginning to a film selected for Cannes, even one in the occasionally genre-friendly Directors’ Fortnight, and though it’s quickly revealed to be imaginary — a bedtime story told to a little boy grieving for his dead hero-cop father — the tone of merry lunacy sets the bar for Pierre Salvadori’s “The Trouble With You.”

The loopy plot follows Yvonne (Adèle Haenel), a police officer on desk duty who, two years after the death of her cop husband Santi (Vincent Elbaz) inadvertently discovers he was far from the crusading hero he’s literally memorialized as (an unveiling ceremony has just occurred for a comically awful statue of him in a local town square). In fact, Santi was deeply corrupt, a revelation reluctantly confirmed by Yvonne’s colleague and obvious torch-bearer Louis (Damien Bonnard). Santi took bribes to finance a lifestyle a mere cop’s wages never could have bought — the very funny montage of Yvonne suddenly registering that fact with a plosive “Putain!” in various rooms of her expensively appointed home is a good example of Salvadori taking narrative lemons (all these years this bright woman hadn’t noticed?) and making sparkling limonade.

But his corruption had a human cost: Santi had conspired with a high-end jewelry store to stage a robbery for the insurance, and had framed an innocent employee, Antoine (Pio Marmaï), for the theft. Antoine has spent eight years in prison and on his release, Yvonne tries to lessen her feelings of guilt by involving herself in his life under a variety of pretexts, none of them truthful. Her good intentions are complicated, however by the fact that she and the rumpled Antoine are attracted to each other, despite Louis finally declaring his ardor for Yvonne, and Antoine being married to Agnes (Audrey Tautou, in her third film with Salvadori after 2006’s “Priceless” and 2010’s “Beautiful Lies”), the rather underwritten oddball who has waited faithfully while he served out his unjust sentence.

This is a polished package, set in Julien Poupard’s warm-toned photography, and if some of the jokes fall flat, most land solidly, perhaps because they do not usually have a very specific target, or a particularly acerbic agenda. Really, “The Trouble With You” is mostly a sparkling showcase for the consummately versatile Haenel, who seems to have evolved from ingenue breakout in “Love at First Fight” to rising indie superstar in the Dardennes’ “The Unknown Girl” to seasoned professional capable of effortlessly classing up the joint while playing the widowed mother of a small boy, in the space of roughly a fortnight. Haenel’s role is a mercurial one, full of opportunities for Clouseau-esque following sequences, mistaken identity mixups, and bumbling acts of well-meaning quirk. But there’s something resolutely un-ditzy about the actress, with her matter-of-fact sexiness and earthy intelligence grounding even the screenplay’s most contrived moments. It is a pleasure to watch her face as she works things out.

The other chief virtue of this spritely, undemanding movie, that should certainly perform well at home even if the international prospects for foreign-language comedies are less assured, is the subtle contrast between Yvonne’s two equally viable potential romances. Antoine is a good guy who’s been given a touchy edge of menace by his time inside, and Marmaï’s unkempt, slightly dazed air of woundedness is a good fit for the character as he increasingly comes to believe that, having done the time, perhaps he should now commit the crime. And Bonnard’s Louis is a sweet portrait of the long-term piner whose affections are suddenly, and unexpectedly requited; unusually for this sort of film where there’s a sexy, dangerous option and a safe, reliable one for our heroine, she actually has more natural chemistry with the latter.

If it’s oddly gratifying to see the good guy finish first, it’s also par for the course in a film that likes all its characters so much that it insists on arranging things so no one ends up getting hurt. Except possibly the further victims of a mild-mannered local serial killer who, in one extended gag, keeps turning up to confess at the police station with increasingly numerous bags full of body parts, only to be ignored by a distracted and lovelorn Louis. “Better to be a bastard than a victim,” insists Antoine at one point, but it’s a philosophy with which the sweet, silly, resolutely non-bastard-ish “The Trouble With You” absolutely does not agree.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'The Trouble With You'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 14, 2018. Running time: 107 MIN. (Original title: "En Liberté!")

Production: (France) A Les Films Pelléas production. (International sales: MK2, Paris.) Producers: Philippe Martin, David Thion.

Crew: Director: Pierre Salvadori. Screenplay: Salvadori, Benoit Graffin, Benjamin Charbit. Camera (color, widescreen): Julien Poupard. Editor: Géraldine Mangenot. Music: Camille Bazbaz

With: Adèle Haenel, Pio Marmaï, Vincent Elbaz, Audrey Tautou, Damien Bonnard.

More Film

  • Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman. Alexander Skarsgard,

    Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard to Reunite for Robert Eggers' 'The Northman'

    With his latest film “The Lighthouse” set to bow this weekend, Robert Eggers’ next film has cast two leads, “Big Little Lies” alums Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård. The pic, titled “The Northman,” is described as a Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. In talks to join Kidman [...]

  • Jessica Henwick

    'Matrix 4' Taps 'Iron Fist' Star Jessica Henwick

    Jessica Henwick is in final negotiations to star in the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. She joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Neil Patrick Harris also just joined [...]

  • Frozen 2

    Record 32 Animated Feature Films Submitted for Oscars

    “The Addams Family,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Abominable” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2” are among the record 32 movies submitted for the animated feature film category at the 2020 Oscars. Last year’s Academy Awards race boasted 25 entries, while 2017 had 26 and 2016 had 27 (a then-record). The list of contenders [...]

  • Bebe Rexha Drops Music Video From

    Bebe Rexha Drops Empowering Music Video From 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' (Watch)

    Bebe Rexha has dropped a video for her song “You Can’t Stop the Girl,” the female empowerment theme from Disney’s forthcoming “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Directed by Sophie Muller, the music video features scenes of Rexha reimagined as Maleficent and wandering through the film’s fantasy landscape, leading a marathon of women and snippets of the [...]

  • Sir Elton JohnElton John AIDS Foundation

    Recappin' Fantastic: The Most Fascinating Reveals from Elton John's Memoir, 'Me'

    How charming, and jaw-droppingly candid, is Elton John’s memoir, “Me”? Consider this: It’s a 350-page book that’s not so overly caught up in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — which, to be sure, it supplies in roughly equal, copious amounts  — that it won’t take a time-out to recount the party where Elton made [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon Kerry Washington Ryan Reynolds

    Market for Package Deals and Original Ideas Heats Up Ahead of Platform Launches

    Practically every studio in town wanted it, but in the end it was Apple that swept in to nab the reinterpretation of “A Christmas Carol” with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds. To buy the highly coveted package, the tech giant was willing to shell out more than $60 million to the stars and the film’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content