Looking for Hortense (Cherchez Hortense) Reviews
"Cherchez Hortense" is a relatively light tale from Bonizer. He has co-written the script with Agnés de Sacy, and I can't help but feel that the maestro has concentrated on directing so much that he has rushed through the writing process. The subtlety that is his trademark has been partly replaced by simple flatness, and the comedy has been left a bit toothless.
Thankfully, Bonizer directs with a good sense of timing, even if the whole movie is a bit too long for its story. What truly redeems "Cherchez Hortense" though are the actors, namely Jean-Pierre Bacri in the lead as the middle-aged lost soul Damien and Kristin Scott Thomas as Damien's determined and strong wife Iva. The two are engaged in a playful war. This provides the meat of the light dialog that also hides some deeper levels for the actors to work with. And they do their best, making this a surprisingly watchable and entertaining, quiet cacophony of a movie.
The basic set-up of Bonitzer's film is reminiscent of the type of scenario Larry David might spin for an episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. Stretched out to 100 minutes, however, this simple idea quickly becomes a test of patience, particularly given the poor, dated comedy on show. Bonitzer appears completely out of touch with modern society, mining jokes from topics like homosexuality and immigration as if he were a staff writer on a seventies British sitcom. A scene where Damien wakes up after a night of heavy (or, rather, heavy by French standards) drinking with a young gay Japanese waiter in his bed scales new heights of misjudgement.
Had he gone for a straight drama, instead of opting for cheap laughs, Bonitzer could have given us an intriguing film. Bacri is great as the put-upon Damien, as is Thomas, albeit short-changed in her role. The female characters in this film are all woefully written (and all seem to suffer from a nicotine addiction). Iva is the stereotypical cheating wife while Aurore is little more than a young damsel in distress, inexplicably waiting for an aging, out of shape knight like Damien to save her. Despite resembling an alcoholic butcher, Damien is apparently irresistible to young women, and indeed young men.
Perhaps the title 'Oh Grandad! The Movie' would be better fitting for the out of touch Bonitzer's latest?
Une histoire simple sur un homme d'une quarantaine d'années qui subit sa vie plutôt qu'il n'y participe. Bacri est parfait pour incarner cet homme qui aimerait bien aider son prochain, mais dont la route est régulièrement entravée d'obstacles divers : sa femme (Kristin Scott Thomas) qui n'assume pas son infidélité. Son meilleur ami qui oscille entre envie de suicide et euphorie amoureuse. Son père qu'il déteste car condescendant, faisant tout pour l'éviter, et à qui il découvre des tendances homosexuelles. Sa belle-famille qui lui en veut de ne pas se bouger pour aider leur amie Zorica.
Il en résulte un récit charmant, avec la politique des sans-papier en toile de fonds, mais sans jamais partir en croisade contre le système. La mise en scène des relations entre êtres humains qui se croisent et qui vivent chacun leur histoire.