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TORONTO — A Gallic spin on Lynn Shelton’s indie hit Humpday that polishes up production values while sticking admiringly close to the story, Yvan Attal’s Do Not Disturb is enjoyable throughout even if it doesn’t quite capture the original’s surprise chemistry. American moviegoers who saw Humpday can skip it, but those who were scared off by that film’s associations with Mumblecore should find it charming.
Production values aside — this version has a chic palette and commercial-grade cinematography — the picture’s most significant difference from its predecessor is the age of its characters. Yvan Attal, playing Ben, is almost ten years older than Mark Duplass was in the part; François Cluzet (Jeff) is twenty years Joshua Leonard’s senior, and has the graying beard and smile lines to prove it.
That’s not a trivial difference. Shelton’s film, in which two reconnecting best friends talk themselves into doing something absurd and relationship-threatening in the name of art, was about young men still at the doorstep of adulthood — more vulnerable to an accusation of having lost one’s bohemian edge, partly because those adventures are still fresh on the tastebuds. As played by Duplass, Ben’s feet weren’t yet so planted in middle-class conformity that he couldn’t jump back and claim “just kidding!”
Here, Attal’s Ben appears well settled in his life — certainly, his beautifully appointed home suggests a level of achievement. Late one night, as he and his wife Anna (Laëtitia Casta) are trying to make a baby, Ben’s old art-school buddy Jeff rings the doorbell and screws everything up.
Having been away for years, doing all manner of artsy things in Mexico, Jeff has a claim on Ben’s time. The two go to a party, get wasted, and become intrigued by a discussion of “Hump” — a Seattle festival devoted to highbrow pornography. We should make a film, they drunkenly decide. But what hasn’t been done already in porn? How about two straight men — soulmates with no physical attraction to each other — expressing their friendship through anal sex?
Attal follows Shelton’s recipe for laughs and awkwardness — the “I won’t blink first” stubbornness that keeps this plan going once the buzz fades; the disbelief on Anna’s face when she learns what’s afoot; the casual, seductive hedonism of the lesbian couple (Charlotte Gainsbourg and Asia Argento) whose party goads the men into action.
And the leads acquit themselves well in the climactic sequence, meeting in a hotel room with a video camera and trying their best to follow through. But as watchable as this incarnation is, Cluzet and Attal never look like brothers, never look like they’d sooner cut off an arm than believe their friendship will never be the same as it was. The stakes aren’t the same, and so Do Not Disturb is just a perfectly nice comedy about men who love each other but really, really don’t want anything to do with each other’s penises.
Production Company: les films du 24
Cast: François Cluzet, Yvan Attal, Laëtitia Casta, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Asia Argento
Director: Yvan Attal
Screenwriters: Yvan Attal, Olivier Lecot, based on the film Humpdayby Lynn Shelton
Producer: Mikaël Abecassis
Executive producer: Frédéric Bruneel
Director of photography: Thomas Hardmeier
Production designer: Thierry François
Costume designer: Nathalie Raoul
Editor: Jennifer Augé
Sales: TF1 international
No rating, 92 minutes
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