Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Worst Nightmare

On New Year's Eve, I went to the Landmark Opera Plaza to see My Worst Nightmare.  I notice I've been going to the Opera Plaza more often since the Lumiere closed.

My Worst Nightmare starring Isabelle Huppert & Benoît Poelvoorde; directed by Anne Fontaine; French with subtitles; (2011) - Official Website

My Worst Nightmare is one of those romantic comedies which so many Americans find contrived but I'm a sucker for.  Benoît Poelvoorde, a comedic actor I am fond of, gets a plum role as a crass ne'er-do-well with an academically gifted son.  He crosses paths with an uptight art gallery owner because their sons have formed a friendship at school.  Agathe's (Isabelle Huppert) son is decidedly less scholastically inclined than Patrick's (Poelvoorde) son.  My Worst Nightmare begins as a comedy about class distinctions which soon gives way to Patrick's lecherous desires for the ice queen Agathe.

Through plot devices too tedious to recount, Patrick ends up moving into Agathe's house after her bourgeois "baby daddy" moves out (to date Patrick's social worker!).  As Patrick & Agathe work inextricably towards sex and later marriage, the comedy becomes less raucous and the plot begins to collapse under its own weight.  The film begins with Agathe shocked and resentful of Patrick's boorish and juvenile antics but ends with a whimper and an extended ending even I could not embrace.

I don't feel like going into too much detail.  Huppert & Poelvoorde shine in their roles but the material just didn't support a 100 minute film.  They actually have quite a bit of chemistry and Huppert really nails her character's frigidity and rigidity.

There was a scene where the two go to Ikea.  In fact, Patrick eats the Swedish Meatballs which is the highlight of any trip to Ikea for me.  There is something comforting in knowing Ikea stores in France (and probably around the world) are the same.  Because it is a Swedish company & the film is set in France, it has a certain savoir faire that would be lacking if the setting was a Wal-Mart in the US.

My Worst Nightmare was far from a nightmare but I thought it wasted strong comedic performances by Huppert & Poelvoorde.  Interestingly, even a middling French romantic comedy like My Worst Nightmare trumps most of what comes out of Hollywood in this genre.

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