“We Love You, You Bastard” – Movie Review
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed by: Claude Lelouch
Starring: Johnny Hallyday, Sandrine Bonnaire and Eddy Mitchell
Released by: Les Films 13
by Alain Gayot
The 18th annual COL•COA French Film Festival debuted at The Director’s Guild Theater Complex in Los Angeles, where renowned director Claude Lelouch’s 44th film, “We Love You, You Bastard” was presented by Axel Cruau, French Consul General in Los Angeles. Produced by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, COL•COA is the largest French film festival outside of France, bringing together 60 writers and producers and 20,000 attendees.
Once the Champagne de L’Argentaine and food from some of LA’s popular restaurants like Church & State, 9021Pho and Lexington Social House was enjoyed, a throng of VIPs, actors, directors and other moviegoers proceeded into the theater for the feature presentation of “Salaud, on t’aime” AKA stateside “We Love You, You Bastard.” After the credits rolled, “Mad Men” creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner moderated a Q&A session.
Starring legendary French rockers Johnny Hallyday and Eddy Mitchell, “We Love You, You Bastard,” tells the story of Jacques Kaminsky (Hallyday), a weathered war photographer who leaves his wife behind in Paris in order to shack up with new girlfriend Nathalie (Sandrine Bonnaire) at a remote spot in the French Alps known as “Le Repère de L’Aigle” (The Eagle’s Nest). An aging Casanova, Kaminsky has four daughters from four different mothers. Named after the seasons – Printemps, Eté, Automne and Hiver – the girls are estranged from their absentee father. Chaos ensues when old friend and doctor Frédéric Selman (Mitchell) tricks Jacques’ daughters into visiting, claiming their father is desperately ill. Once they arrive, it becomes increasingly more difficult for Kaminsky to keep the lies under control. The situation continues to unravel after a fifth daughter (the result of an ancient fling in Cuba) named Francia appears.
Co-written with Lelouche’s wife, Valérie Perrin, “We Love You, You Bastard” is visually stunning. Set against the pristine backdrop of the mountains, the film is filled with the resounding sounds of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Beautifully shot, the majestic scenery and long-drawn-out dinner table scenes infuse the first half of the film with a golden, dreamy quality. Just when you think you are settling into a sentimental family tragicomedy, Lalouche shakes up the third-act by segueing into a murder-mystery. A unique mix of genres, the film is ultimately about love, life and a man who succeeded in his death what he could not in life.
As significant as people and flora, fauna play an important role in the movie, including a magnificent eagle that keeps a bird’s eye view on all the shenanigans at “Le Repère de L’Aigle.” Lelouche, who calls animals “the spies of the gods,” clearly holds the natural world in high regard.
As a father of seven children with five wives, Lelouche admitted to having a unique insight into Kaminsky’s character. Who could be in a better place to write such a film?
We see an American remake in store.
(The film is also known by its French title “Salaud, on t’aime.”)
You can click on each photo to enlarge.