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2014年11月21日 星期五

Qu'est-ce qu'on fait au bon Dieu? (Serial Bad Weddings )(非常四女婿)

What has France become? A virtual united nations of different nationalities and ethnicities?  Maybe not yet. But for the Verneuils, a traditional conservative upper middle class French Catholic Gaulist couple:a lawyer Claude Verneuil (Christian Clavier) and  his middle aged wife Marie Verneuil (Chantal Lauby), living in Chinon, a little suburban town some 2 to 3 kilometers from Paris, who together had 4 daughters to be married, it soon became evident that multiracial and cross cultural marriages, something which look initially totally inconceivable but which with the passing of time, somehow becomes something they have to reluctantly adapt themselves to, though not without a few regrets which unfortunately could only be expressed when they are out of earshot of their daughters and their hubbies. Maybe they might have derived some consolation from the old worldly wise French saying, "C'est la vie" and had to confess to its universal applicability to all kinds of life situations, including their own.

"Qu'est-ce qu'on fait au bon Dieu?" (Serial Bad Wedding)(非常四女婿) is a film about the unexpected little hiccups in the fate of the intellectually and politically "liberal minded" couple  confronting the realities they had to face when they tried to put into practice their devotion to the three founding principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Their eldest daughter Isabelle Verneuil (Frédérique Bel) was the first to leave the family. She fell in love with a court opponent she beat in litigation, Rachid Benassem (Medi Sadoun), a Muslim, whom she duly married. Next to follow is Julia Piaton (Odile Verneuil) who married David Benichou (Ary Abittan) an orthodox Jew in the same church, who had always wanted to start the business of selling organic Jewish food but never succeeded. The following year, their artistic and sensitive 3rd daughter  Ségolène Verneuil (Emilie Caen)  married a Chinese banker Chao Ling and ...by the same parish priest.
When the film opens, it was the turn of  their youngest daughter Laure Verneuil (Elodie Fontan) to plan her wedding with, not a Red Indian, but a black comedian Charles Koffi (Noom Diawara) who hailed from Côte d'ivoire. It was the Verneuils' very last chance to have a "normal" marriage. When Laure, a TV court reporter announced this to her parents, not daring to tell them that he was black, they literally breathed a sigh of relief: for a change, they could finally get a "proper" Catholic as a son-in-law, ! But when they finally met Charles, their eyes popped out, their jaws dropped and their their hearts sank to the ground but being good parents, they pretended that it was alright. Then it was time to discuss wedding plans. The heads of the two conservative families negotiated terms over, what else but the ubiquitous internet, fully equipped with video camera and voice telephone. The elder Koffi agreed to the wedding provided the bride's family were to pay for all wedding expenses and no racist words by anyone within his hearing and in case of breach he got the right to pound whoever let out such remarks. They got a deal, each with the greatest reluctance. Then the Koffis arrived, not with 400 which they originally declared would come from every part of the globe except the Far East but just a dozen close relatives and friends and they got the use of the Verneuil's master bedroom, much to the chagrin of old Verneuil who was "forced" to work out his rage by sawing down literally every tree in their garden and then went fishing.

The wedding nearly went literally off the rails, but after the two heads of the clan got a big fish and liberal doses of cognac, they became the "best of friends", as if they had known each other for years but not until they had first to be bailed out by their attorney son in in law Rachid from the local police station for "rowdy behavior" and a perfectly timed "loss of consciousness" by the "minister of Birundi" on the Chinon to Paris train compartment where Laure happened to be sitting, necessitating the train inspector to pull the emergency brakes, and the two racing back home on an army jeep, hours before the wedding ceremony was to begin at the same old Chinon church where old Verneuil escorted his other daughters on the aisle. The next thing we know, we see Laure being escorted by a black and white pair down the aisle just in the nick of time and shortly thereafter all the Verneuils and Koffis and friends  dancing the rumba at the wedding reception and the elder Koffi happily announcing that he would give a cheque for the non-refundable deposit the elder Verneuil paid for the booked but absent guests on the Koffi side and Marie recovered from that "depression" she had been suffering ever since hearing the news of the coming wedding of her last daughter.

It was a hilarious film, full of comical French style subtle slapsticks and racist remarks which slipped out so "naturally" from the mouths the sons-in-law against each other in the dialogues whenever they were invited for the annual Christmas dinner but which were all smiled off. The most hilarious was the circumcision ceremony of Benassem's son after which Benassem offered the cut foreskin of their boy to his in-law the old Verneuil, who promised to bury it under their apple tree in their huge garden but which slipped on to the ground and instantly became a welcome snack to their dog. So old Verneuil just dropped as a replacement a sausage which his wife was bringing to his on a plate as refreshment whilst he was digging the hole for interring that very Jewish bit of memorabilia.  A wonderfully entertaining film! I'm sure it will be welcome everywhere where people have not yet lost their sense of humor. Christian Clavier and Pascal N'Zonzi  as the elder André Koffi were simply excellent. I'm sure that Philippe de Chauveron who co-wrote the dialogue with Guy Laurent and directed the film will never have to worry where he'll get money for his next film which he said he was already planning when asked at the Q& A session immediately after the film.