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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Happily Ever After
Directed by Yvan Attal
Kino International 04/05 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Vincent (Yvan Attal) is a Parisian car dealer who has a wife and a young son. Despite the comforts of home and his love for Gabrielle (Charlotte Gainsbourg), he yearns for something more. And after he experiences unbridled passion with a masseuse (Angie David), Vincent finds himself caught up in the complications of a drawn-out affair. His devoted wife rightly intuits that he is cheating on her and feels very saddened and uneasy about it. One of the best evenings they have together is a playful food fight that begins in the kitchen and spreads with madcap energy to other rooms.
On her job as a real estate agent, however, Gabrielle has plenty of time to think. At one point, she even imagines a life without her husband. Frustrated and bored, she decides to take a vacation with her young son. There she meets a man at a bar and shares her feelings about Vincent's adultery. It is one of the marvels of life that individuals are often able to bare their souls to strangers when they need to express feelings that have been weighing on them heavily.
Perhaps the most memorable scene is when Gabrielle enters a record store and finds herself standing next to a handsome man (Johnny Depp) who is listening to the same song through headphones. The arousal that they feel in the closeness of their bodies is palpable to both of them. In that brief interlude, Gabrielle experiences the same sexual excitement that has propelled Vincent into an affair. Writer and director Yvan Attal (My Wife Is An Actress) has an uncanny ability to convey the different shades of love and lust that commingle in the bodies, hearts, and minds of men and women.
This delightfully rambling drama also presents other glimpses of men in relationships with women. Vincent gets together regularly with two friends for soccer and poker games. Georges (Alain Chabat) is married to Nathalie (Emmanuelle Seigner), a feminist who is always on his back. He spends most of his time complaining about her but underneath knows that he probably could never do without her. Feeling sorry for himself, he purchases a new sports car, the trophy of so many middle-aged men who want something more than what they've already got.
Fred (Alain Cohen) is Vincent's co-worker, a bachelor who is constantly dating pretty or downright voluptuous women. His two buddies are constantly amazed at his ability to charm women. At one point, Fred criticizes them both for believing the fairy tales they learned as boys. The only true believers in marriage in Happily Ever After are an Indian couple who live in the same building with Georges and his feuding wife. They have been married for 20 years and still are capable of complete devotion and fulfilling sex with each other.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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