The New Zealand International Film Festival may be my favourite event of the Wellington Calendar. And I love myself a French film, every time.
Like 2012’s, ‘Intouchables’ – also starring François Cluzet – this film takes you away to another world. While it cannot match the former’s impeccable universal tale of friendship, this sweet tale of love between two older people (not that old though – ok) is a joyous romp into the French Movie circuit.
Summary - Irreplaceable (original title: Médecin de campagne) is a 2016 French dramedy film directed and co-written by Thomas Lilti. It stars François Cluzet and Marianne Denicourt. Jean-Pierre Werner (Cluzet), a countryside doctor who has lived a life devoted to his job, finds out that he is suffering from a serious illness. Marrianne, a doctor from the city (Denicourt) arrives to help him in his task, but the arrangement unsettles Jean-Pierre who considers himself indispensable. They come to get to know one another. He teaches her about the country life and his patients and their expectations and relationship to the modern world. She teaches him to soften up a bit and let himself love again. While the plotline has a strong element of manic-pixie-dream-girl-syndrome, it was all done very tastefully and it was in French so I gave it a bit of a higher rating than I would have otherwise. Marianne, the French love interest, has a ton of patience. She’s also a bit of a drip at times. But I also loved the character portraits of the various eccentric personalities of the villages where Dr Werner attends.
Overall rating? 4 out of 5 stars.
How did I feel when I arrived? I arrived feeling frazzled after being caught on a teeny tiny street outside the Lighthouse Cinema and getting trapped in the car between a rowdy tradesman and a 90 year old couple. This is my first time driving unaccompanied after getting my restricted licence on the weekend. I arrived and promptly ordered a pineapple and pork sausage roll because I hadn’t eaten since lunch. Lighthouse Cinema’s, I love you for letting me take food in.
How long did it take me to lose myself in the film? 2 minutes. Once the opening titles rolled and the first French tongue was heard, I was hooked and back in ‘ooh la la land’. I had my attention taken away someone for those first minutes because I was trying to eat a sausage roll quietly on a china plate with a knife scrapping the plate and was worried the old lady next to me might tell me off.
What did I like/favourite scene? This film does its characters brilliantly, painting a broad and interesting portrait of the types of people outside Paris who are rarely given air time on film. There is a brilliant scene where Marianne and Dr Werner and the eccentric people of the country come together for literally a country hoe down. Watching French people square dance in country hats to Cotton Eye Joe is a moment of pure movie magic. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Also, hearing Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah sung in a French accent – genius and hysterical. Again, could have verged on icky but was charming and slightly absurd in the context of a French Doctor at a community hall watching 83 year old’s slow dance with one another. I wanted to be at this hoe down with my pot of Bon Maman jam and cowboy hat. Also, Marianne still manages to look stunning in some truly crap clothing.
What's the takeaway? Never close your heart to love. Get to know the people around you, even in our modern world. Do not under any circumstances operate heavy machinery in the rain in the French countryside and leave your cell phone in a barn at the same time
Any added hopes/dreams/wishes? Not really – this film was pretty good and gave me the gentle, lullaby ride of a France that may or may not exist. Either way, I didn’t care. I wanted relax and be transported to a wonderful French world that mainly exists outside of the real world.
How did I feel when I left? Happy, relaxed, ready to arrange my own hoe down.
In ten words or less? They lived happily ever after in the muddy middle of nowhere