Monday, May 05, 2008

Hunting and Gathering, by Claude Berri (2007)

This movie didn't quite go where I thought it would, and that's a good thing. There seems to be a type of movie where a girl gets caught between a bad boy and a nice guy, and she becomes the prize (normally for the bad boy, much to the nice guy's disgust). Philibert Marquet de la Tubelière (Laurent Stocker) is definitely the nice guy: he rescues a damsel in distress (Audrey Tatou as Camille, who is freezing to death in her garret) and puts her up in his rather opulent apartment, to nurse her back to health. He dresses foppishly - bow ties and an exquisite red velvet (or maybe corduroy) jacket - stutters and has some sort of aristocratic background. He has his flaws - an unwillingness to make much of himself, no "take charge" attitude. Franck (Guillaume Canet) has all the trappings of the bad boy - motorcycle, leather jacket, loud music, random women and a job as a chef. Yes, he visits his dear old grandmother every week, but begrudges every minute and comes back in a foul mood - a contrast with Philly taking in a random stranger.

But things don't go the way I thought they would. For a start, Camille is not this perfect women they fight over - she's almost anti-social (at least, that's her claim about herself, but it doesn't really come through). She too is an under-acheiver: there are many suggestions (without evidence) that she is smart, but works as a cleaner. Sure, Franck cleans up his act and turns in to a genuinely decent guy (which had me wondering - if all Camille wanted was to turn him into a decent guy to have as a mate, why not pick the fellow who is decent to start with). Turns out he (Philly) is not interested: he's got all googly eyed over another girl, Sandrine, and isn't even in the contest. During the course of the movie, he goes from being this nerdy stutterer to stand-up comedian (Stocker is a comedian in real life).

But the thing I liked was that instead of Franck winning his prize, she turns out to be a bit more independent in her attitudes: it is Franck who has to plead for something more than sex.

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