Friday, April 17, 2015

Streaming tip: The French bourgeoisie again in Eric Lavaine's smart and gorgeous BARBECUE

What a pleasure it is to view -- in high definition, too -- the eye-poppingly gorgeous location that plays a large part in BARBECUE, another welcome addition to that ever-growing genre of modern ensemble comedies about the travails of the always-ripe-for-a-little-satire French bourgeoisie. Now available to stream via Netflix, this 2014 film tracks four couples (one of them recently split) and their single, shy-unto-near-silence friend who always tags along, as they bond, argue, spill out secrets and help each other over some tumultuous times. Not too tumul-tuous, however; this sub-genre is a spin-off of the rom-com, after all.

As co-written (with Héctor Cabello Reyes) and directed by Eric Lavaine (pictured at right), the movie sprints delightfully along as it tells the tale of one fellow in the group -- that gorgeous and talented hunk, Lambert Wilson, shown below and at bottom, who seems to grows even more so with age -- who suffers a sudden heart attack while jogging, and in the aftermath decides to change his life.

M. Wilson leads a very capable cast through its paces, which involves the stress and strain of marriage, (in)fidelity, health, economics, employment and dating -- among other travails.

The delight to be found in films such as this generally comes from the characterizations and the acting on view, as well as via the often beautiful setting in which these members of the haute bourgeoisie find themselves. Barbecue is no exception to the rule, and in fact proves one of the better recent examples of this sub-genre (certainly better than the overblown and over-long Little White Lies of a couple of years previous).

The film's look at infidelity among both men and women is done more evenhandedly than usual here, with plenty of blame and understanding to go around, and not so much of the typical patriarchal influence we often see in cinema.

The ensemble cast is excellent, with each member contributing humor and feeling in pretty much equal doses. But the film's ace-in-the-hole has got to be its amazing locations, whether it's that vacation spot high in the hills at which our troupe assembles, where the light and colors -- viewed in hi-def -- are simply exquisite, or the fine and fancy restaurant in which their final celebration takes place.

Almost no middle-class person I know can any longer afford to live like this, but the movies -- bless 'em! -- still enable us to enjoy this kind of beauty and pleasure, at least from afar. Give Barbecue a shot and bask, if only temporarily,  in its atmosphere and charm.

You'll find the film -- in French with English subtitles and running a pleasant 98 minutes -- on Netflix, and maybe elsewhere, too (though Amazon does not seem to have procured it).

No comments: