Magazine article Screen International

'Chacun Sa Vie': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Chacun Sa Vie': Review

Article excerpt

Claude Lelouch fields an all-star cast from Johnny Hallyday to Jean Dujardin and Beatrice Dalle

Dir: Claude Lelouch. France, 2017, 113 mins

The prolific and inimitable Claude Lelouch remains absolutely true to himself and joyous, unfettered -- some would say, unhinged -- storytelling in Chacun sa vie, an actor-studded ensemble romp about how love makes the world go 'round. Most of the interlocking characters -- the majority of whom work in the legal or medical fields in the town of Beaune in Burgundy -- end up asking at least one other person, "have you ever cheated on your spouse?" and "what's your sign?" Suggesting that there's anything wrong with what's on screen would be akin to criticising a bunch of kids having a great time at a playground.

Lelouch is such a fearless storyteller and so good at juggling expectations that he can keep recycling his old tricks in ways that elicit respect amid the groans.

The full title - Chacun sa vie (et son intime conviction) - could translate as "To Each His Own -- And His or Her Innermost Personal Conviction." Lelouch clearly believes that romance, often where least expected, is the driving force in human behavior but also that relationships run their course. And just as you've been set up to think that something sexist or racist is taking place, Lelouch deftly executes a "gotcha!" that always lands on the side of live-and-let-live and Vive la différence.

With this and his delightfully self-mocking role in Guillame Canet's recent hit Rock n Roll, iconic French rock star Johnny Hallyday is establishing an entertaining sideline in playing himself. An extended scene between Hallyday, Jean Dujardin and Antoine Dulery in the men's room of a police station in Beaune is an instant classic but probably only for viewers (of which there are many) who understand what a Johnny Hallyday is, the way others grasp what a Keith Richards or a Johnny Depp is.

The running gag involving the real Hallyday and a singing look-alike inspires other grin-inducing situations including one with Elsa Zylberstein and Vincent Perez in fine form.

The lengthy scene in which a career prostitute -- a confidently zaftig Beatrice Dalle -- bids farewell to her final client before retiring ("Twenty guys a day for 20 years -- that's 150,000 guys in my bed!") is both touching and funny.

Multiple scenes touch on lawyer Antoine's (Christophe Lambert, raspy-voiced and very convincing) serious alcoholism and the toll it's taking on his wife (Marianne Denicourt). …

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