What's In A Name?

farce with laughs

This sub-titled, French-Belgian comedy is billed as a farce, and finds its laughter in situations that the characters create for themselves. All works out well in the end, but along the way, moral dignity is usually lost.

After a quick introduction to all the key players, the movie zeroes in on the apartment of a pretentiously up-tight Literature Professor at the Sorbonne, Pierre (Charles Berling), and his disillusioned, primary-school teacher wife, Elisabeth (Valerie Benguigui).

The two of them are rushing to prepare dinner for their guests, who include Elisabeth’s brother, Vincent (Patrick Bruel) who is a self-absorbed, glamorous real estate agent, and Elisabeth’s childhood friend, Claude (Guillaume de Tonquedec), who is a sensitive classical trombonist, who everyone secretly perceives as gay. Vincent arrives for dinner, and the four of them wait for Anna (Judith El Zein), Vincent’s pregnant partner. While waiting for Anna, Vincent takes the opportunity to announce the name of the baby he is expecting with her. The choice of name offends everyone, and complications become more intense as the evening progresses.

Vincent satisfies everyone’s curiosity by saying at the start that he has decided to name the baby Adolphe. Following Vincent’s announcement, it is not long before bickering turns to yelling, and relationships start to fracture when the implications of the name, and its effect on everyone, start to develop. Soon everyone is fighting and hurling personal insults at each other, speaking before thinking, and it is not long before someone is goaded insensitively into confessing having had an illicit affair with an unexpected person (which again is characteristic of French farce).

In the ensuing debacle, all of the characters reveal and learn things about themselves, and, as the plot twists and turns, emotional truths create insights into love and friendship. It all works out in the end with the happy birth of a girl, but there is much emotional out-pouring on the way through.

The film has very witty dialogue. Because everything happens in the one place (the apartment of Pierre and Elisabeth), there is a stage-look to the film, and it is obvious that the movie basically presents us with a filmed version of a play it was based on.

This is a very good French comedy, and it introduces us to five people who populate their roles with finely-tuned performances - Peter Sheehan, ACOFB

Starring Patrick Bruel, Charles Berling, Judith El Zein, Guillaume de Tonquedec, and Valerie Benguigui. Directed by Alexandre de La Patelliere and Matthieu Delaporte. Rated M (Coarse language and sex scenes). 110 min.

What's In A Name?

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