The Do Not Disturb experience
- Yvan Attal's remake of Lynn Shelton's Humpday, an amusing comedy about friendship and sexuality, has premiered in Toronto.
It's extremely rare to see French cinema remake a contemporary American film, even if the opposite is much more common. Yvan Attal's Do Not Disturb [+see also:
film profile], which made its world debut at a Special Presentation today at the Toronto Film Festival, is therefore an object of curiosity. The film stars the director himself beside François Cluzet (a major actor in France over the last few years, from Tell No One [+see also:
film profile] to The Intouchables [+see also:
film profile]), who form a great duo, and is a remake of American filmmaker Lynn Shelton's Humpday (Special Jury Prize at Sundance and selected for the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in 2009). The result is an entertaining film about the rather risky subject of male friendship and sexuality.
It all starts with the pants of Anna and Ben (Laetitia Casta and Yvan Attal), a couple making love in their home in the Parisian suburbs. But the past soon turns up as the doorbell repeatedly rings and the rather invading character of Jeff suddenly bursts into their lives. Jeff is Ben's friend from his student days. He has just returned from Mexico, and is played by a rather different-looking François Cluzet (beard, unruly hair, straw hat, bandana) whose look immediately sets the tone for the comedy. The newcomer moves in, much to the joy of of his old friend, while Anna is cautious as she had never met him. With his taunts ("a car, a wife, beautiful art books on a coffee table: it's cool!") and comments ("your feet are in chains, you've been locked down", "we don't live in the same world"), helped along by a Parisian party (alcohol, cannabis, lesbians, and an alternative arty vibe), Jeff soon drags Ben into a turbulent place and awakens his desire to relive the dreams of his youth and escape from the conformism of his life as a town planner and model husband concentrated on his wife's ovulation periods. It all soon leads to a drunken bet: to take part in Hump, an amateur porn film festival, with an art film in which two heterosexual friends sleep together. Ben takes up the challenge ("don't let me off the hook just because of a preconceived idea you have of me) and books a hotel room. Two obstacles remain: to tell Anna and, especially to keep his word, which means sleeping with Jeff on camera.
With its two excellent actors, Do Not Disturb definitely gains in quality thanks to the long and crucial final sequence at the hotel. A successful combination of funny comedy and much deeper themes (the percentage of love inherent in friendship, the relative boundaries between homosexuality and heterosexuality, prejudice, fantasies in general, the multiple sides of personalities…), the film smoothly oscillates between both tones with great rhythm. Even if the treatment of its female characters (notably Charlotte Gainsbourg and Asia Argento as stereotyped bisexual lesbians) is hurried and somewhat lacking, the male duo at the heart of the film works perfectly and confirms Yvan Attal's ease as a director-actor of intimate comedies after My Wife is an Actress [+see also:
film profile] and ... And They Lived Happily Ever After.
Produced by Les Films du 24, Do Not Disturb was co-produced by France 2 Cinéma, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, and Films sous Influence, pre-acquired by Canal + and Ciné +, and supported by the Ile-de-France region among others. Sold by TF1 International, it is to be distributed in French cinemas next October 3 by UGC.
(Translated from French)
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