'One Wild Moment' ('Un moment d'egarement'): Film Review

Courtesy of Mars Films
Glossy and mostly passable entertainment for French men in early middle age.

Vincent Cassel and Francois Cluzet play best friends on holiday with their teenage daughters in this dramedy from 'Mesrine' director Jean-Francois Richet.

A divorced fortysomething father finds himself having sex with the 17-year-old daughter of his best friend in One Wild Moment (Un moment d’egarement), a broad, glossy and mostly passable French entertainment from director Jean-Francois Richet (the upcoming Mel Gibson vehicle Blood Father). If the basic conceit sounds rather unoriginal, that’s because it is: Moment is not only a remake/update of the eponymous 1977 film from the late Claude Berri, whose son Thomas Langmann produced this film, but the original also was the inspiration for the 1984 Stanley Donen picture Blame It on Rio, with Michael Caine, Joseph Bologna and a very young Demi Moore.

In this 2015 French version, the dubious honor of having sex with an underage girl — here more of a Lolita type – falls to dependable French macho Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), who also headlined Richet’s superior Mesrine diptych. Intouchables star Francois Cluzet is cast as his best friend, a comically overprotective father who swears he’ll kill the older man who had sex with his child.

With ample (too) young female flesh on display and plentiful bromance moments between the adult male leads — read: complainting about the older women they’ve divorced/are separating from and eyeing up the bikini bottom-clad behinds of younger girls — this sun-dappled dramedy clearly is geared toward early middle-aged males, despite the fact that the screenplay was co-written by Lisa Azuelos (who wrote and directed both the spunky original LOL as well as the ill-fated remake that starred Miley Cyrus and a much older Demi Moore). Seeing how the Berri film is a well-known property in France and this is the first onscreen pairing of two of the country’s biggest stars, at least initial business should be decent for this June 24 release. It also has a shot at some offshore action in venues open to more commercial French fare, though hopefully no one will want to make a remake of this remake.

Laurent (Cassel) and his 18-year-old daughter, Marie (Alice Isaaz), are spending the summer with Laurent’s best bud, Antoine (Cluzet), in the latter’s dilapidated if extremely spacious childhood home, picturesquely hidden in the pine forests of Corsica. Marie and her friend Louna (newcomer Lola Le Lann), Antoine’s daughter, don’t really want to be there, as there’s no Internet or cell-phone coverage except over the family tomb, hidden in a nook in the garden (yes, this is just as lame a joke as it sounds).

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To make matters worse, the girls’ fathers don’t have much else to do but set rules for their kids and keep on checking their every move, especially when they find some male friends their own age to hang out with. Laurent tries to be a cool permissive dad, which frequently leads to criticism from the too-controlling Antoine, which gives them something to talk about. Their daughter-focused banter should really elicit more chuckles than it does, however, seeing how much time the early going dedicates to the restrictions that should apply to them, which doesn’t deliver much in terms of drama and even less in terms of surprises.

Indeed, the protracted early going is laid-back in a summer-holiday kind of way, with cinematographers Robert Gantz and Pascal Marti leisurely taking in the beauty of both the four leads — often seen in TV-like close-ups — and the gorgeous island most famous for being Napoleon’s birthplace. It takes some 40 minutes before the adaptation, written by Richet and Azuelos, finally throws the naked, 17-year-old temptress into the arms of the somewhat intoxicated Laurent in the warm, moonlit — bien sur — waters of the Mediterranean, with Laurent putting up a fight until Louna pulls out a sob story. 

Not exactly subtle, editor Herve Schneid cuts from the unlikely, slightly icky couple kissing to Antoine loading a hunting riffle, though it soon becomes clear he just wants to deal with the wild boars that are invading his property. Louna clearly is smitten with her silver fox but, thankfully, Laurent quickly realizes he’s made a mistake, though instead of telling his best friend/her father, he keeps hiding it from Antoine. This would suggest the film will turn into more of a comedy — which would be a new avenue for Richet — but instead it remains an off comedy-drama hybrid, though one in which the characterizations and motivations remain rather shallow.

The needs and desires of Louna and Laurent after the "moment" of the title are clear but can hardly be called unexpected, nor is their treatment here psychologically illuminating. Until the film’s final scenes, when things do briefly morph into something akin to a modern-day farce after a worked-up Antoine discovers Louna’s "been dumped by an older man," things pretty much play out as expected.

Cassel and Cluzet, both consummate actors, have solid and very believable chemistry in these roles they could do in their sleep and newcomer Le Lann also impresses as the lass who comes between them, even if her teenage infatuation feels increasingly simplified and all-consuming and she becomes less rather than more interesting as the film progresses. Throughout, and despite a game performance by the clearly talented Isaaz (Smart Ass), Marie remains something of a fifth wheel, someone who only reacts to what’s going on around her when it’s convenient for the plot. 

The film’s comfortable budget is all up there onscreen, from the starry cast to the beautiful locations and another one of Philippe Rombi’s predictably glowing scores. The only craft contribution that doesn’t quite, well, cut it, is the editing, which is careless in some specific sequences (such as a fight in a forest that ends abruptly before it has even really started) and lacks a sense of pacing overall.  

Production companies: La Petite Reine, Entre Chien et Loup, Orange Studio
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Francois Cluzet, Lola Le Lann, Alice Isaaz
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Screenplay: Lisa Azuelos, Jean-Francois Richet, based on the film by Claude Berri
Producer: Thomas Langmann
Directors of photography: Robert Gantz, Pascal Marti
Production designer: Emile Ghigo
Costume designer: Marite Coutard
Editor: Herve Schneid
Music: Philippe Rombi
Casting: Gigi Akoka
Sales: Kinology
No rating, 105 minutes