Me, Myself and Mum (Les Garcons et Guillaume, a Table!): Cannes Review
Cannes screening (Directors’ Fortnight), May 20
Guillaume Gallienne, André Marcon, Diane Kruger, François Fabian
French stage star Guillaume Gallienne turns sexual anguish and family friction into charming confessional comedy.
Adapting his 2008 one-man stage show for the big screen, the award-winning French theater actor Guillaume Gallienne revisits his sexually confused youth in this flamboyant farce, which premiered to rapturous applause in Cannes. There are shades of Pedro Almodovar as Gallienne unpicks his complicated love-hate relationship with his domineering mother, who raised him more like a daughter than a son, defining him as gay before he was even sure of his own sexuality. Years of therapy, insecurity and self-loathing followed. Perfect training for a career in acting.
Pointedly theatrical in style, and full of strong comic set-pieces, Me, Myself and Mum is a warm-hearted crowd-pleaser with readymade appeal to LGBT-themed film festivals. With the right marketing and sympathetic distribution, overseas word-of-mouth success is certainly an option.
The 41-year-old Gallienne plays himself from school-age child to awkward adolescent to young man. He also doubles up in drag to play his own mother, looking uncannily like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, often acting opposite himself in smoothly blended split-screen scenes. An unshakable presence in his psyche, Mommy Dearest materializes to advise the timid hero at key moments, whether he is receiving a life-changing enema from Diane Kruger’s stern German health-spa nurse or unwittingly signing up for a group-sex orgy at a bacchanalian gay nightclub.
Raised in wealth and privilege by quasi-aristocratic parents, Gallienne’s relentlessly self-pitying tone grates at first. Similarly off-putting is the film’s episodic jumble of fast-moving comic vignettes, which initially seem to rely too heavily on broad stereotypes and sitcom-level cheap laughs. But as the story evolves, the theatrical flourishes becomes more artful and witty. The author’s sense of humor also proves disarming, cheerfully branding himself a narcissistic drama queen.
Virtually unknown outside France, Gallienne’s localized celebrity status will doubtless limit the film’s prospects in overseas markets. But it could also prove a bonus in one respect, as the final twist will be more surprising to non-French viewers. Sweet and sunny and shamelessly sentimental in places, Me, Myself and Mum is an attention-seeking diva of a film, albeit rich in charm.
Production companies: Rectangle Productions, Don’t Be Shy Productions, LGM Films, France 3, Gaumont, uFilm
Producers: Eduard Weil, Alice Girard, Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Jean-Baptiste Dumont
Stars: Guillaume Gallienne, André Marcon, Diane Kruger François Fabian
Director: Guillaume Gallienne
Writer: Guillaume Gallienne
Cinematographer: Glynn Speeckaert
Editors: Valerie Deseine, Loïc Prian, Olivier Dô Hùu
Music: Marie-Jeanne Serero
Sales Company: Gaumont
Unrated, 85 minutes