La Vie est un Long Fleuve Tranquille
Life Is a Long Quiet River
Charles Gassot, Florence Quentin (executive) for France 3, MK2 Productions, Téléma
directed by Étienne Chatiliez
starring Benoît Magimel, Hélène Vincent, Valérie Lalande, Tara Römer, Jérôme Floch, Sylvie Cubertafon, Emmanuel Cendrier, Guillaume Hacquebart, Jean-Brice Van Keer, Praline Le Moult, Axel Vicart, Claire Prévost, André Wilms, Christine Pignet, Maurice Mons, Daniel Gélin, Catherine Hiegel, Catherine Jacob, Patrick Bouchitey, Abbes Zahmani, Khadou Fghoul, Ismael Bourabaa, Louise Comte, Liliane Ledun, Luc Samaille, Gilles Defacque, Philippe Peltier, Pierre Rougier, Marc Spilmann, Louis-Marie Taillefer, Philippe Vacher, Roger Dancoine, Jean-Pierre Fouillet, Louis Becker, Denis Barbier, Elisabeth Tavernier, Frédérique Moidon, Marie-Luce Delesalle, Rina Garfneur, François Paoli, Johan Le Poulain, André Vlaminck, Franck Rossignol
written by Étienne Chatiliez, Florence Quentin, music by Gérard Kawczynski
Available on DVD !
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It all starts with nurse Josette (Catherine Hiegel), who's having an
affair with her boss, Dr. Mavial (Daniel Gélin), but when he refuses to
celebrate Christmas with her, she gets so angry that she exchanges the
newborn of one of his friends with another one from a working class
It's 12 years later, and Dr. Mavial's wife has just died - and yet he
refuses to accept Josette into his life for anything but a quick shag - so
she finally confesses what she has done back when, not only to him but
also the respective families, just to destroy Mavial's reputation but
good: And thus, the owner of the power company Jean Le Quesnoy (André
Wilms) and his wife Marielle (Hélène Vincent) learn that they've got a
son, Momo (Benoît Magimel), who has been brought up to be a small fry
criminal, while their daughter Bernadette (Valérie Lalande) isn't theirs.
To avoid any kind of scandal, the Le Quesnoys pay off Momo's parents, the
Groseilles (Christine Pignet, Maurice Mons), take Momo in as a foster
child, and keep Bernadette without telling her anything. At first,
everything seems to work out fine since Momo seems to get into the new
lifestyle just fine, and the Groseilles really needed the money. But soon
enough, the house of cards starts to implode: While Momo steals from his
new parents to support his former syblings, the Groseilles try to
blackmail the Le Questnoys into giving them more money, and eventually
Momo tells Bernadette her true origins, something that breaks the girl,
who has been brought up to feel nothing but disdain for the lower classes.
But there are positive things happening as well, as Momo manages to bring
the kids of the two families together, to teach his "new"
siblings what it is to be children out of their upper class bubble - which
is something Jean and Marielle Le Quesnoys are only very slow to grasp ...
A very sweet comedy about the class divide that manages to make its
impact by never trying to just hammer its point home and instead opting
for a light-hearted approach to things, going for jokes at the expense of
both upper and lower class, but without ever going out to offend just for
the offending's sake or going for just cheap jokes and instead showing a
lot of heart. And of course a competent ensemble cast and a subtle
directorial effort make this a joy to watch.
Side note: France's most successful movie of 1988, and deservedly so.