Review: C’est La Vie1 August 2018
In C’est La Vie, Pierre and Helena have invited all of their friends and family to a 17th century chateau for their wedding. But what appears from the beginning to have the makings of a Gatsby-esque affair quickly turns to chaos at the hands of wedding planner Max and his eccentric and often incompetent staff. Director Olivier Nakache shows his audience that just as it’s best not to know how a sausage is made, it may also be in everyone’s best interest not to know what goes on behind the scenes of executing a wedding.
The story unfolds at a rapid pace, quickly cutting to and from scenes and creating an overall feeling of pandemonium. At the core of this film are multiple intersecting storylines such as Max’s tryst with staffer Josiane, sexual tension between his hot-headed assistant Adele and the arrogant and tacky wedding singer James, and bizarre behaviour from rogue photographer Guy who immediately makes it clear why he’s been struggling to get gigs.
While Jean-Pierre Bacri is phenomenal as the perpetually sneering Max who, throughout the course of the film, grows more and more eager to retire from the industry, it’s the supporting actors who truly imbue this comedy with most of its charm.
The film opens with Max meeting with a couple who wants to cut down on expenses for their wedding. They accuse him of not trying to be inventive, and in return Max makes several belittling suggestions such as the use of crepe streamers and having people bring their own lemonade to make shandies. It’s abundantly clear that the frugal type aren’t Max’s desired clientele, and he dismisses them to make his way towards the chateau wedding.
But despite Max’s carefully organised vision for the night, everything that could go wrong, does. Among them are food poisoning that puts most of the band out of commission, fears of a potential visit from an auditor, and a last-minute need to redo the dinner menu. At each turn, Nakache has his audience convinced that this mishap will be the one that unravels the whole event. But despite having the appearance of being incompetent, when a round of less-than-safely executed fireworks compromises the venue and all the power goes out, Max’s staff proves that they are, in fact, inventive.
Some of the comedy comes across as a bit trite, such as the recurring joke that Max struggles with technology and has a reputation amongst his staff for sending texts rife with autocorrect fails. If you’re looking for originality, you won’t find much of it in C’est La Vie where pretty much every character is a silly caricature. But although it relies heavily on tropes, it does so with charm and humour.