The time has come to delve into the world of French cinema at the Alliance Française French Film Festival. One of the most highly anticipated cultural events in Perth, the festival is back for its 29th edition, bringing with it a feast of award-winning films for our viewing pleasure. Until the 4th of April, you can treat yourself to over 50 truly exceptional films and bear witness to the latest innovations in French cinema. With its impressive lineup, the festival is a clear testament to the diversity and brilliance of the French film industry and is a guaranteed great night out.
The premier of any event foretells its outcome, and the AFFFF foretold astounding success. Approaching the iconic entrance of Cinema Paradiso, the scene was reminiscent of a romantic fairy tale. A beautiful bride in a breathtaking wedding gown stood alongside her groom at the entrance, beckoning people inside. Ascending the staircase adorned with fairy lights, people made their way to the foyer, passing through an extravagant archway made of white roses. Excitement bubbled from the crowd, whilst the smell of freshly made popcorn permeated the air (a brilliant way to boost popcorn sales, I might add).
As if the aesthetic setting wasn’t impressive enough, upon taking their seat guests were treated to a gift bag that boasted an array of free French products (jackpot!). Although the masses piled into the cinema, never once did it feel crowded in the spacious venue.
The introductory speeches commenced, but the highlight was undoubtedly the famous French actor, Laurence Lafitte (Ooh la la). In Perth especially for the opening night, having attempted an Aussie “G’day”, his bubbly and bright demeanour set the tone for what was to come, as the lights were dimmed and the movie began.
Directed by the dynamic duo that gave us The Intouchables, C’est La Vie (Le sens de la fête) is a charming French comedy that is bound to be a favourite. Max, a cantankerous wedding planner and caterer, is staging an elaborate wedding in a beautiful 17th-century chateau. Behind the breathtaking facade, however, is a chaotic nightmare. Aside from a volatile assistant, absent staff and defiant waiters, an obnoxiously egocentric groom, dodgy electrics, and an indignant substitute DJ, Max’s professional and personal woes are interwoven into the madness. As Murphy’s Law would have it, and much to our amusement, the team must overcome a series of disasters and unite in the face of adversity.
Being familiar with Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s directorial style, I was expecting a delightful comedy elegantly interwoven with drama and politics. Instead, the film was an uproarious comedy void of political statements, which is what makes it so universally likeable. The film is something that people can simply, as opposed to being slammed with political agendas.
The film doesn’t shy away from establishing its comedic tone in the very first scene with a strikingly witty introduction. In a confrontation with his micromanaging clients, Max puts on a brilliant display of sarcasm and wit that is bound to make you laugh.
The main drive of the plot is to survive the comedy of errors that is the wedding. As the film progresses conflicts are continually introduced to ensure viewers remain on edge, and it does so brilliantly. Many of the characters’ individual ambitions and shortcomings become subplots of their own, contributing to the comedy of chaos. Their unique oddities and recurring flaws made each confrontation a laughable spectacle, whilst also being an interesting exploration of humanness.
I loved this film and I can confidently say that you will, too, so long as you don’t mind subtitles. You don’t just have my word for it though, but that of the entire audience, whose overwhelming round of applause was evidence enough of the film’s success. If the premier is any indication of what’s to come, this is not something you should miss out on. The Alliance Française French Film Festival is a must see this March, so what are you waiting for?