“It Happened in Saint-Tropez” – Movie Review
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed by: Danièle Thompson
Starring: Eric Elmosnino, Kad Merad, Monica Bellucci, Lou de Laâge, Valérie Bonneton
Released by: Pathé Distribution
by Alain Gayot
The 17th annual COL•COA French Film Festival debuted at The Director’s Guild Theater Complex in Los Angeles, where director Danièle Thompson’s “It Happened in Saint-Tropez” was presented by Axel Cruau, French Consul General in Los Angeles. Once the Champagne de L’Argentaine and food from some of LA’s popular restaurants like Church & State, K-ZO and Estérel at the Sofitel Los Angeles was enjoyed, a throng of VIPs, actors (including Robert Forster and Shannon Wilcox), directors and other moviegoers proceeded into the theater. The screening of the short “Clean” was followed by the feature presentation of “Des Gens qui s’embrassent” AKA stateside “It Happened in Saint-Tropez.” The title was inspired by the Frank Sinatra song “It Happened in Monterey” which is featured in the movie along with the crooner’s hit “My Way.” Coincidentally, the music for that song was co-written by Claude Francois, whose movie biography “My Way” was the opener at the 2012 COL•COA! After the credits rolled, writer/producer/director Edward Zwick (Defiance, The Last Samurai, The Siege) moderated a bilingual Q&A session.
The film tells the story of two brothers – Zef (Eric Elmosnino) and Roni (Kad Merad) – who couldn’t have less in common (one very religious and music-oriented, the other much more progressive nouveau-riche fashion-oriented) in a family seemingly held together only by their aging father Aron who suffers from Alzheimer’s. When the funeral of Zef’s wife falls on the same day as Roni’s daughter’s wedding, feuding ensues, yet the family begins to come together in Saint-Tropez. Unlike a typical Italian drama, the film results in a happy, unexpected ending.
Director Daniele Thompson, who has worked in family dramas before including her Oscar-nominated 1975 hit Cousin Cousine, also co-wrote the convoluted plot: on the way to her mother’s funeral, Noga (Lou de Laâge) falls in love with Sam (Max Boublil) who happens to be her cousin Melita’s (Clara Ponsot) husband-to-be. What could end up as a Greek tragedy ends well as the two cousins begin to understand each other. The result is three babies: Sam is the father of two of them, one from each of the cousins, and Zef father of third.
We won’t spoil the plot any more than that. But when we asked the young and new actress Lou de Laâge what were the most difficult scenes for her; she answered the ones where she had to play the cello. Conversely, Grandpa Aron, played by the 91-year-young Ivry Gitlis, was not an actor, but a violin virtuoso who had to watch the actor who portrays his son Zef pretend to play the violin and Lou de Laâge the cello!
We asked Thompson if she was preparing a sequel for the film. She said, “But these three little babies are so young.” We responded, “But in movies [and in real life], they grow up so fast,” to which she replied, “Not a bad idea.” In any case, we predict an American remake in the near future.
For more information and the complete schedule, visit this page
(The film is also known by its French title “Des Gens qui s’embrassent.”)
You can click on each photo to enlarge. Movie stills and Daniele Thompson photo by Emilie De La Hosseraye.