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…And They Lived Happily Ever After | Review

To Have and To Have Not

Attal asks and answers the questions for eternal happiness.

In the most common of themes in French cinema, Happily Ever After is an intimate look at adultery – with more of a focus on how isolation can exist even when the total sum value is 2. It’s the seven year itch and a mother/wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg – 21 Grams) finds solace in raising her little man, while her husband Vincent (Yvan Attal – Bon Voyage) feels condemned to a typical family life and finds himself vicariously living through and wanting what his neighbor Fred (Alain Cohen) has – a well-endowed blonde. While Georges (Alain Chabat – Astérix & Obélix Meet Cleopatra ) deals with his midlife crisis by splurging on a high-priced car, Vincent flirts with the idea of having what he normally can not have.

Certainly not the type of film that will boost the strengths of the family man, director-writer Yvan Attal’s sophomore feature – a comical, dramatic observation about how human desire quarrels with the notion of marriage. Attal explores this interior discord through the female protagonist’s reaction – this matriarch keeps everything in logical balance, yet the build-up of tension is deliciously transferred in well-constructed edits which best describe how easy it is to fall into another person’s arms without the usual made-for-movie stigma attached. Such as the film’s opening sequence, the radio-booth session the calmly good-looking Frenchmen (cameo appearance from Johnny Depp) and the war of the refrigerator condiments there is playfulness within the text, but when the more serene elements are introduced they seem to joust with the overall tone of the pic. The unevenness is furthered by the miscue and over-employment of Radiohead music to evoke the sense of heartbreak and drifting in couple hood.

More of an amusing viewing than a compelling one, Happily Ever After works best with the sampling of small married-life moments and by the fact that it strays away from the usually proposed cataclysm of the breakup. Gainsbourg’s poised performance as a married woman in a comfortable relationship who takes love for granted offers the film an emotional truth which stamps out the unimportant three-buddy plot device. Like in his first film My Wife is an Actress, real-life couple Attal and Gainsbourg character’s imperfections and the film’s unpredictability always makes for are a compelling watch. Its just too bad that the film has to go through so many turning in circle moments to get to the film’s final charming scene.

Viewed in original French language.

Rating 3 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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