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Mes Amis, Mes Amours
UKScreen Rating:

Mes Amis, Mes Amours – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Parisian Mathias (Lindon) is persuaded by his best friend Antoine (Elbé) to move to London, where his ex-wife lives with their daughter.
He buys the French bookshop from – apparently – the only British man in French area of London, known as “Frog Alley” (Little Venice, to you and me) – and moves in next-door to Antoine, who lives with the son from his own broken marriage.
Mathias is a bit taken aback when his ex-wife sees his arrival as an excuse to move back to Paris, leaving him to look after their daughter.
For no discernable reason, the two Dads decide to knock the ground floor of their houses into one big living area – architect Antoine clearly hasn’t been living in London long enough to have absorbed all the advice from Sarah Beeny.
But there’s a catch – to benefit from this new communal living arrangement, carefree Mathias has to agree to neat-freak Antoine’s set of rules, which include such things as “no coming home late” and “no bringing women home” the unwritten rule of not putting down your drink without a coaster.
Everything works out fine, of course, until Mathias meets the gorgeous Audrey (Ledoyen) at the children’s school.
This puts pressure on his friendship with Antoine – a surprise visit from the ex-wife puts pressure on his relationship with Audrey – the death of a neighbour puts pressure on everyone.
If you haven’t worked it out, it’s a comedy. I think.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

There’s no doubt that this film is quaint and rather lighter and fluffier than my synopsis might suggest, but its far too removed from reality to have any right to take itself as seriously as it does.
While Mathias’ relaxed and cheeky nature is enjoyable, it’s not entirely convincing that someone as stunning as Audrey would fall for a middle-aged man whose defining quality appears to be a fear of heights. And it seems equally unlikely that such a free spirit as him would sign up to a set of rules that curb his search for happiness.
The idea of an area of London where everyone – from the passers-by to the local Scottish builder, McKenzie – are native French-speakers seems as narrow-minded as the British idea that everyone in the world should speak English.
Clearly cinema requires that we suspend our disbelief, but that’s so much easier to do in action or horror films or the wilder comedies than it is in a film that’s ostensibly set in our world.
And when the film-maker’s version of “our world” is so far removed from the real world, it makes you spend the whole film shouting “that would never happen.”
It’s certainly interesting to see your own city through the eyes of the French, but if this serves to attract French people to London – they’re likely to be thoroughly disappointed by what they find!
In truth, this is a fantasy, masquerading as reality.
If you can get over that, seeing a beautifully Richard-Curtis-style London populated entirely by French people isn’t without its charming moments.

Opens nationwide on 4th June 2008

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