Thursday, 6 November 2014

Review - Let's Talk About The Rain (2008 - Dir. Agnès Jaoui)

We return to rank outsider Jamel Debbouze who managed to impress with his first round effort, Outside the Law, in this year's FA Cup of Actors. He is up against some stiff opposition in this match though (James Stewart) so he better be on top form if he wants to be a giant killer. Here he is then in Let's Talk About The Rain.

Agathe Villanova (played by the director) is a politician being interviewed for a documentary by Michel (co-writer Jean-Pierre Bacri) and Karim (Debbouze). Agathe's sister and her husband, plus Karim's mum, get thrown into the mix and the relationships get increasingly complicated due to numerous affairs. None of the characters are particularly happy throughout the majority of the film but will they attain a greater level of contentedness by the finale?

The first half an hour or so is not that engaging and, as you've probably guessed, it takes a while to work out who's who and what their initial relationships are to each other. But once everyone has been identified things start to improve and it develops into a pleasant little tragicomedy that manages to raise a few smiles.

One of the most amusing characters is the sister's husband. His son is choking so Michel deals with it with a good hearty slap to the back. Problem solved. But no. Laddo complains that he did it wrong. He should have used the Heimlich manoeuvre. Brilliant idea mate. Give him serious internal injuries rather than try a less harsh method first. Top parenting. He also moans at his wife for that most heinous of crimes: reading in bed. They really should bring back the birch. Okay, so maybe he's more irritating than amusing, but I laughed at him regardless.

A slightly more traditional comic figure is Michel, who makes documentaries for a living. He is truly a premium quality professional; he doesn't press record before the interview starts and misses getting some cracking footage and has a tendency to be generally incompetent. But at least he's got the cheeky fellow Debbouze to help him out.

He's his usual likeable self and shows that he has a wider range than just war films. Subtlety is the key here as he contemplates having an affair with his co-worker. He is completely believable and is in good company with an equally impressive cast. I wasn't looking forward to his films at the start of this competition but he's managed to get past my gruff miserable shield and be adopted as one of obscurendure's favourite actors.

The film deals with the lofty themes of depression and the role of women but it still manages to throw in a sheep gag. And no, not a dirty one. Dear me. The comedy here comes from the noise they make and their ability to follow people down country lanes. I did say that it was a pleasant little film.

It all adds up to a well-made subtle film that is quietly entertaining. But for me, the spark that takes it into the above average category just wasn't there. For you, it may well be. I enjoyed it but it's not a film that I'd watch again. James Stewart will be raring to go and donning his shin guards when he sees the rating this one's been given (if he was still alive, admittedly) and I'm doubtful that Jamel can pull off anything better than a draw in this match. It's a shame. But you never know...

If you like this you could also try:
Look At Me, Two Days, One Night.

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