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PARIS — A groom with serious commitment issues tries to pull himself together before tying the knot in the too chatty – and way too catty – Parisian comedy, Bachelor Days Are Over (Pourquoi tu pleures?). Anyone familiar with the textbook Gallic tale of philandering men and their hysterical other halves will find little that’s new in actress-turned-director Katia Lewkowicz’ well-cast yet misdirected sex romp, which opened to so-so box office following its closing-night slot at Cannes’ Critics’ Week. Some Francophone sales and fests will make for a short honeymoon.
Though we never learn his name, the 35-year-old groom (Benjamin Biolay) is the type of depressed, womanizing (and seemingly unemployed) male prototype that French contemporary films seem to harvest by the acre. The film kicks off only a few days before his marriage to Anna (Valerie Donzelli), who has inexplicably disappeared, leaving her gloomy guy to deal with wedding preparations and the arrival of his bride’s extended Israeli family.
Thrown into an existential crisis that he handles by boozing with his buddies and starting an affair with a cabaret singer (Sarah Adler), the groom can’t stop asking himself the same question: Why get married? Yet the best advice he receives in this overtly misogynistic take on marriage is: “In order to make your wife happy,” while one of his goofball pals advises him to stick with Anna because his “ex-girlfriends were all pieces of garbage.”
As if trying to out-macho what any male filmmaker could do with such material, Lewkowicz (Secret Defense) presents a world where all men fear commitment like it’s the plague. When they’re not complaining about their spouses, they’re seen crying on each other’s shoulders or, as is the case with one unsavory type (played by director Eric Lartigau), calling his teenage daughters “whores.” Meanwhile, the females depicted are either nervous wrecks like the groom’s sister (Emmanuelle Devos), or else they’re impulsive like Anna, who arrives late in the game to declare that she’s “hot” and literally wraps her legs around the groom as soon as they’re alone.
It’s unfortunate that Lewkowicz couldn’t find better fodder for her talented cast, who remain locked in stereotypes seen in many a middling Gallic comedy, though few veritable laughs are offered here. Singer-songwriter Biolay (who also composed the score) gives his character some welcome nuance amid limited dialogue (most of which involves different French variations on the word “fuck”). Devos delivers some of the film’s more amusing one-liners, while filmmaker Nicole Garciaoverreaches as a raving mother who can’t stop reminiscing about changing her son’s diapers.
Widescreen cinematography by Laurent Brunet (Seraphine, A Screaming Man) makes fine use of the grungy Parisian streets and apartments, adding a realistic flavor to the comedy.
Opened: In France (June 15)
Production companies: Panorama Films, LGM Cinema, Le Pacte
Cast: Benjamin Biolay, Emmanuelle Devos, Nicole Garcia, Valerie Donzelli, Sarah Adler, Eric Laritgau, Rodolphe Dana, Jean-Noel Cnokaert, Nadir Legrand
Director: Katia Lewkowicz
Screenwriters: Katia Lewkowicz, Marcia Romano
Producers: Gregory Barrey, Jean-Baptiste Dupont, Jean Labadie
Director of photography: Laurent Brunet
Production designer: François-Renaud Labarthe
Music: Benjamin Biolay, Marc Chouarain
Costume designer: Nathalie Benros
Editor: Celia Lafitedupont
Sales Agent: Le Pacte
No rating, 96 minutes
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