While the feature film “Mon Inconnue” was broadcast this Monday evening on France 3, focus on three other excellent French romantic comedies. With Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Alain Chabat, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Déborah François…
THE ARNACOEUR (2010)
Your daughter is dating a bad guy ? Your sister got bogged down in a destructive passionate relationship? Today, there is a radical solution, it’s called Alex. His job: professional couple breaker. His method: seduction. His mission: to turn any boyfriend into an ex. But Alex has an ethic, he only attacks couples whose wife is unhappy. So why agree to break up a happy couple of rich thirty-somethings who are getting married in a week?
This is the very original pitch of the romantic comedy L’Arnacoeur, led by the irresistible duo made up of Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. Not to mention succulent supporting roles like François Damiens and Julie Ferrier.
Screenwriter Laurent Zeitoun had the idea for L’Arnacoeur following a story in his family. “My first cousin was in love with a despicable boy who made her unhappy”he says. “He had his ex’s name tattooed on his arm and claimed he still loved her! [Mon oncle] told me: “You have to introduce her to a good guy who will open her eyes.” Laughing, I replied, “Pay a comedian from the improv league and explain to him what your daughter likes!” (…) The idea of the profession of couple breaker comes from there!”
When choosing his main actor, the name of Romain Duris seemed obvious to director Pascal Chaumeil. “I dreamed of a naturally glamorous actor,” he says. “I didn’t want to have to create a power of seduction through screenplay tricks. Few actors of his generation have his charisma. The films by Cédric Klapisch in which he played also prove that Romain is made for comedy.”
Romantic comedy as hilarious as it is moving, L’Arnacoeur, of which we will retain, among other things, a brilliant scene in the form of a declaration of love to Dirty Dancing, also benefits from the presence in its cast of a Hollywood star. Andrew Lincoln, the Rick Grimes of the series The Walking Dead, is indeed in the credits!
We find Romain Duris with Populaire, a very original romantic comedy in which he plays the role of Déborah François. We are in the spring of 1958. The young Rose Pamphyle, promised to the destiny of a docile and diligent housewife, does not want this life. She then decides to become a secretary for Louis, the charismatic boss of an insurance firm.
The job interview is a fiasco. But Rose has a gift: she types on a typewriter at breakneck speed. The young woman in spite of herself awakens the ambitious sportsman who slumbers in Louis. If she wants the job, she’ll have to enter speed-typing contests!
Director Régis Roinsard (who recently reunited with Romain Duris for Waiting for Bojangles) had the idea for Populaire in 2004, when he came across a documentary about the history of the typewriter. This report “featured a very short sequence on speed typing championships”says the filmmaker. These thirty short seconds fascinated me so much that I immediately perceived its cinematographic and dramaturgical potential.”
For her role in this film with a very neat 50’s aesthetic, Déborah François trained extensively in typing. “I devoted myself to it two to three hours a day for three months in the preparation phase, and then during the shooting, but not every day”says the actress. “When I had to type for a scene, I didn’t practice at night, because I was afraid of hurting myself.”
“In the beginning, by the way, I almost had a “Typing Elbow”, because it is not a natural posture and the keys of typewriters are difficult to press”continues the actress. “It’s a rather special gesture to take. The fact of using the little finger was all the more complicated for me as I was not used to typing with all the fingers.”
LEND ME YOUR HAND (2006)
Lend me your hand is the story of Luis, 43, a happy bachelor, fulfilled in his job, loved, pampered, nurtured by his mother and five sisters. It could have lasted a lifetime, but here it is… Tired of mothering him, they decide it’s time for him to get married. As soon as possible !
Surrounded by his family who only thinks about it, he develops a plan: find the perfect woman who will pretend to be his fiancée and who will cowardly abandon him on the wedding day. After that, no one will even dare to say the word marriage in front of him. But how to find this rare pearl? Luis sees only one solution: rent it!
It is Alain Chabat, who stars in Lend me your hand alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg, who had the idea for this film, about five years with its actual implementation. Dn the first version of the screenplay, the tone leaned more towards the “pure comedy” side, but the “romantic comedy” dimension appeared over time.
Unaccustomed to comedies, even if we could see her in this register with Danièle Thompson (La Bûche) or in front of the camera of her companion Yvan Attal (My wife is an actress, They married and had many children), Charlotte Gainsbourg confides, at the microphone of AlloCiné: “I was worried before shooting, because I saw that it was a frank comedy. There were jokes, lines that were there to make people laugh. I wondered if it was necessary to play differently, if it was necessary that I care about the rhythm…”
“Eric Lartigau (the director, editor’s note) and Alain reassured me by telling me that I could play as I wanted, without worrying about that”, continues the actress. “And I think the pacing comes from the scenes, it’s not a game pacing, something you have to slap, it just comes naturally.”