Nous finiron’s ensemble (2019)
Directed by: Guillaume Canet | 135 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Benoît Magimel, Pascale Arbillot, Clémentine Baert, Valérie Bonneton, José Garcia, Mikaël Wattincourt, Jean Dujardin
In 2010, it was one of the most visited films in French cinemas: ‘Les petits mouchoirs’ by actor/director Guillaume Canet. For Canet it was a very personal project. He wrote the screenplay when he was confined to his home due to blood poisoning and was inspired by the American ensemble film ‘The Big Chill’ from 1983. In both films, a tragic event turns out to be the catalyst for a reunion of old friends, where sweet and suffering, old pain, longings that may or may not have been answered and indelible memories arise (that the title in Dutch is best translated into ‘white lies’ says it all). Canet asked his friends from the French film world – including his life partner Marion Cotillard, Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Francois Cluzet and Benoît Magimel – to play a part to make things even more personal and the company actually moved in for three days. the holiday home in Cap Ferret that also plays a crucial role in the film. The film was such a roaring success that Canet was brooding on a sequel. Because how is it now, about ten years later, with the group of friends. Have they been able to handle the drama that happened at the time or are they still struggling with life?
In ‘Nous finirons ensemble’ (translated: ‘we will end together’), the friends reunite in the holiday home of restaurateur Max (François Cluzet), this time to celebrate his sixtieth birthday with a surprise party. Max isn’t looking forward to such a surprise visit at all; he has since divorced Vero (Valérie Bonneton) and is in serious financial trouble after a wrong investment. So heavy, in fact, that he sees no other option than to put his beloved, hand-built holiday home in Cap Ferret up for sale. But just when the real estate agent shows up on his doorstep, his old friends Vincent (Benoît Magimel), Marie (Marion Cotillard), Eric (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (Laurent Lafitte) and Isabelle (Pascalle Arbillot) – including supporters and children – reappear. the sidewalk and they must absolutely not know that the water is at Max’s lips. The neurotic Max initially doesn’t like it, but at Eric’s insistence, he gives in. Although another house must be arranged. The group of friends appears to have lost contact with each other in recent years and have a lot to catch up with. Marie has a hard time raising her son without her great love Ludo (Jean Dujardin). Vincent has brought his new friend with him, but turns out to still have a soft spot for his ex Isabelle, especially when he sees how she has blossomed. Eric has a 10-month-old daughter and gets into a fight with his strict nanny (Tatiana Gousseff) and Antoine is tired of nobody taking him seriously. To top it all off, Vero also decides to visit Cap Ferret; When she discovers that Max has put their vacation home up for sale, she decides to take revenge with the help of a benevolent neighbor.
‘Nous finirons ensemble’ is a textbook example of light drama. Supported by an ensemble of excellent actors who are perfectly attuned to each other, you as a viewer are drawn into the group of friends, as if you have been part of it for years. Although the characters are a little bit caricatured (the neurotic Max, the jump-in-the-field Marie, the charmer Eric, the clumsy Antoine), played by such good actors, they come to life without any effort. After the somewhat rough start, they grow closer to each other again, which leads to days full of nostalgia, emotion, casual fun and unexpected outpourings. The amorous entanglements, the hassle with the kids (who are much older now) and the necessary drama that crops up would not look out of place in the screenplay of any soap opera, but because of the skilled way in which Canet, his cast and crew dealing with it, ‘Nous finirons ensemble’ never slips into that. The disadvantage of such a packed cast is that not every character is equally endowed in terms of backstory, storylines and development. In particular, Antoine and Isabelle are a little bit underwhelmed by all the relational violence, while Marie, Max and Eric draw most of the attention to themselves. Nevertheless, they hold up well. Although ‘Nous finirons ensemble’ is a sequel to ‘Les petits mouchoirs’, both films can be seen separately. However, anyone who has seen the first film has an advantage because he or she already knows the characters and their backgrounds.
‘Nous finirons ensemble’ is a comedic drama that largely relies on the excellent actors and their warm, sincere chemistry between them. The fact that the actors are friends with each other in real life also radiates from it and gives this French ensemble film that little bit extra compared to its genre contemporaries.