C’est la Vie: A cluttered comedy that works like a charm

Review: It’s a shame this obvious crowd-pleaser is getting such a limited release

C'est la Vie
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Director: Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano
Cert: Club
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Gilles Lellouche, Jean-Paul Rouve, Vincent Macaigne, Alban Ivanov, Suzanne Clément, Judith Chemla, Eye Haidara, Benjamin Lavernhe
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins

Despite receiving a scandalously cursory release in this part of the world, The Intouchables – a hugely feel-good 2011 comedy about the friendship between a millionaire quadriplegic and his Senegalese caretaker – has steadily and deservedly built a cult following.  The writing and directing team of Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano made less of a splash with follow-up picture Samba, a 2014 immigration dramedy featuring Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg and far too many other people and plot contrivances.

C'est la Vie, the team's new similarly socially-conscious comedy, is arguably even more cluttered – and yet somehow it works like a charm. That's in keeping with the plot, which sees everything go wrong for beleaguered wedding planner Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri), only to somehow come good in the end.

It's a shame that such an obvious crowd-pleaser is getting such a limited release

Forget Bridezilla. C'est la Vie boasts Groomzilla Pierre (Lavernhe), whose attempts to micromanage his lavish 17th century chateau wedding to Héléna (Judith Chemla), prove trying for Max and his battalion of catering staff, musicians and serving staff.

Secretly in love

It looks fabulous, but behind the scenes, they’ve lost the DJ, the photographer keeps eating the canapés, the lamb spoils, and there’s a rumour that someone from revenue is sniffing around the event. Max’s brother-in-law, a depressed ex-teacher coming back from a breakdown, is secretly in love with the bride. The groom’s mother is popping up on a dating app. Josiane (Clément), Max’s assistant and lover, is furious that he hasn’t left his wife yet.


And finally, the electricity blows, allowing DOP David Chizallet (Mustang) and the lighting department to conjure a spectacular set-piece.

Max’s catchphrase – “We adapt” – equally applies to the agreeably chaotic choral structure. Despite a fine, fun, multicultural ensemble cast, not every character and subplot here is gold, but the film breezes along so amiably that its weaker moments never grate.

It's a shame that such an obvious crowd-pleaser is getting such a limited release. Did somebody say The Intouchables?

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic