The only reason why I saw this movie last night was because of the film’s writers. The Alliance Française French Film Festival website mentions that Papa ou Maman was penned by the French screenwriting dream team, Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière. Alexandre de la Patellière is the author behind the highly hilarious Le Prénom (What’s in a Name?). I expected some intelligent laughter due to the absurdity of the situation.
Well, I found absurdity indeed, but not in a pleasant manner – there was even a couple of moviegoers who left mid-way during the movie.
The movie is about Florence (Marina Foïs) and Vincent (Laurent Lafitte) – the movie opens with a scene of Florence and Vincent engaging in a silly chase through a party on New Year’s Eve. We’re made to understand that Flo and Vincent are a free-spirited couple who enjoy juvenile, irresponsible games among themselves that keep them together. Flash forward fifteen years later where Flo and Vincent are married with three children, Mathias, Emma and Julien. At first we think that they are happily married until they unceremoniously and casually mention to their close friends that they are getting a divorce soon, and that they find it difficult to break the news to the children.
This is where the story unravels fast, as the viewers are presented the lack of maturity and the silliness of the couple, even to the point of using the children as pawns in their effort not to be burdened by having the custody of the children. If the movie was presented as a social commentary and critique of the silliness and self-centredness of divorce proceedings, well, I get it – kind of. However, it is hard for me to accept that in fifteen years, the main characters are as juvenile, self-centred and irresponsible as they were fifteen years ago – even when one is a head engineer in a wind farm project and the other is a successful doctor. I also dislike the self indulgent long takes at the beginning of the movie to highlight Flo and Vincent’s silliness as they chase each other across rooms and buildings. They don’t serve anything at all.
I am so tempted to give this movie a one out of six rating, but would give a two out of six. I give an extra star in its attempt – perhaps – to give a moral critique against the ease of divorce proceedings and using children as pawns and property to be split. Maybe I’m being thick in not appreciating the irreverent humour, however, where I think that Le Prénom is irreverently intelligent and hillarious, Papa ou Maman is just one heap of embarrassing and juvenile mess.