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Tanguy

You’re such a sweetie. You can live here forever if you want. Little do Paul and Edith Guetz (the wonderful Andre Dussolier and Sabine Azema) realise that the effusive promise they made to their baby will prove so prophetic. 28 years later, their son Tanguy (Eric Berger) is still living at home. It’s not that this urbane, very well-to-do bourgeois couple aren’t enormously proud of their son, who’s handsome, intelligent and a great hit with women. It’s just that he doesn’t seem to have any intention of finding his own place. When a plan to ship Tanguy off to Asia for a year seems to have fallen through, Edith can’t take it anymore and convinces Paul that they must take serious steps to drive their son out of the house.
Director Etienne Chatiliez, who specialises in black comedies about contemporary social issues (La vie est un long fleuve tranquille/Life is a Long, Quiet River, Tatie Danielle), has scored another major hit with Tanguy, which offers an amusing take on separation anxiety as well as some provocative thoughts about changing notions of parental responsibilities. The new film is again socially pertinent (at one point a judge remarks that 80,000 full-grown French children have sued their parents for continued support), and Chatiliez doesn’t shrink from the perverse pleasures of watching people do nasty things to others. Yet Tanguyis less scathing and more even-handed than the director’s earlier films. The closing moments open out spectacularly from bourgeois claustrophobia to a new personal and cultural perspective, inviting the audience to perceive the whole concept of family anew.
France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 108 mins.

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