The Perfect Date – L’amour, c’est mieux a deux (2010)
Directed by: Dominique Farrugia, Arnaud Lemort | 100 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Clovis Cornillac, Virginie Efira, Manu Payet, Annelise Hesme, Laurence Arné, Shirley Bousquet, Jonathan Lambert, Laurent Lafitte, Sophie Vouzelaud, Emmanuel Suarez, Lancelot Roch, Marie Vincent, Diane Dassigny, Clémence Aubry
In romantic comedies, it is usually women who take center stage. The stories are told from a female perspective and most of the male characters don’t come off very well: they are unreliable, insensitive or uninterested and only interested in one thing: how to get a woman into bed as quickly as possible. The 2010 French comedy ‘The Perfect Date’ (original title ‘L’Amour, c’est mieux à deux’) plays with that pattern of expectations by telling the story from Michel’s (Clovis Cornillac’s) point of view. He is the ‘eternal romantic’ type and dreams of accidentally bumping into the woman of his dreams, just like his parents and grandparents did (and which is rubbed into his head). His best friend Vincent (Manu Payet) is quite the opposite: he has a very dynamic sex life and tries to talk every woman into bed – and he usually succeeds! Despite their differences, the friendship between Michel and Vincent is strong, although it is put to the test.
We meet Michel on the day he marries Hélène (Sophie Vouzelaud). On the same day, ‘best man’ Vincent shares the bed with a Swedish beauty. A year later, Michel is already divorced and Vincent discovers that he has a son named Arvid. Barely recovered from the shock – because what should he do with a child?! – Vincent decides to cheer up his best friend by arranging a blind date for him. Michel hopes for a chance meeting with the woman of his dreams, but what’s against giving fate a helping hand. Through his free-range Nathalie (Annelise Hesme), Vincent meets the beautiful Angèle (Virginie Efira), who turns out to be a perfect match for Michel. And so a chance date is arranged, where Vincent and Nathalie of course don’t show up. After an awkward start, it seems to click and it doesn’t take long before Michel and Angèle are madly in love with each other. But when Michel discovers that his best friend is behind the supposedly spontaneous encounter with Angèle, his world collapses. He breaks up with Angèle, who doesn’t understand anything, and doesn’t want to see Vincent anymore. But he will certainly not be happy without Angèle and as soon as he realizes this, Michel, together with Vincent, will do everything possible to get her back.
The story of ‘The Perfect Date’ was written by Arnaud Lemort and Franck Dubosc and the film was directed by Lemort and Dominique Farrugia. The humor in the film is both a strength and a weakness; sometimes it’s too flat for words, but as the film progresses the jokes get so bland that you have to laugh. In any case, ‘The Perfect Date’ needs some time to get going and to get to know the characters. At first you have the idea that Michel is a typical French hothead, who goes through life frustrated and grumpy and desperately clings to the ideal image of perfect love that his parents have created. Why on earth he makes such a big deal out of not meeting Angèle by chance is incomprehensible. But as so often, a man only knows what he’s missing when she’s not there. And as soon as Michel tries to win back Angèle, our resistance to him melts completely. Clovis Cornillac portrays his character wonderfully and also has a nice chemistry with Virginie Efira. We are not immediately enthusiastic about Vincent either: an incorrigible womanizer who shirks his parental duties and then also works as a divorce lawyer. But he too undergoes a drastic development, driven by Nathalie. There are nice supporting roles by Laurence Arné, who has a lot of laughs as Claudine, a friend of Nathalie and Angèle, and Shirley Bousquet who plays wonderfully over the top as Michel’s willing secretary Swan.
Don’t be put off by the lame jokes at the beginning; ‘The Perfect Date’ gets more fun as you get to know the characters and become close to them. Both Michel and Vincent learn that their approach to love may not get them where they want to be. The story is told lightly, with charming actors, a brisk pace and a fine balance between humor and life lessons.