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LET’S TALK ABOUT THE RAIN

Director: AGNÈS JAOUI

FRANCE • 2008 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 110 MIN


THIS NEW FILM FROM THE COMME UNE IMAGE/LOOK AT ME TEAM OF AGNÈS JAOUI AND JEAN-PIERRE BACRI OFFERS A REMINDER OF THE CONSIDERABLE PLEASURES TO BE HAD FROM A TRADITIONAL, WELL-CRAFTED FRENCH DRAMA, WHERE WRY OBSERVATION OF HUMAN FOIBLES IS AT A PREMIUM OVER THE LATEST STY LISTIC TICS AND ACCOUTREMENTS.
Having a cast who can wring all the subtleties from the material is a tremendous advantage, of course, and the co-writers are reliably splendid in front of the camera as well. Jaoui is spot-on as the bossy feminist writer about to move into politics, while Bacri’s portrayal of a third-rate so-called ‘filmmaker’ chancing his arm making a video-doc about her offers laser-like insights into middle-age self-delusion presented without a hint of malice. Caught between them is a brilliantly focussed turn from Jamel Debbouze (a familiar figure from Amelie) as Bacri’s talented protege, currently stuck working in a hotel but with a family connection to bigwig Jaoui since his mum (Mimouna Hadji) is the loyal housekeeper at her family’s Provence villa. The title’s a gag at the expense of the uncharacteristically grey Provence skies, but the whole undertaking is an adroit blend of sly wit and underlying seriousness. The self-serving puffery of the French middle-classes gets another good going over, and there’s some pointed attention to the casual racism of the supposedly right-on. All of it is elegantly wrapped up in a series of family spats and emotional misunderstandings, then seasoned with a dash of laugh-out-loud humour. They make it look so easy. — Trevor Johnston.

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