Who would have thought a film about winning more than 18 million euros on the lottery could be so melancholy and, frankly, downright tedious? But director Didier Le Pêcheur has turned the best-selling novel and play, La Liste de Mes Envies, into a overlong ode to parsimony and simple living. Pushing credibility to the limit, he suggests such a life-changing event is a harbinger of doom. And this back-to-front fairytale of a film serves as a warning to anyone who believes winning easy money is the route to happiness.
Set in the northern city of Arras, Jocelyn (Mathilde Seigner) and her husband Jo (Marc Lavoine) lead uneventful lives. Jocelyn owns a haberdashery and writes a successful blog, while Jo works in a local factory. Egged-on by her two closest friends, Jocelyn plays the lottery for the first time and wins over 18 million euros. Afraid the money is going to change her life for the worse, she hides the win from her family and friends and continues to live as normal. While the cheque is hidden in a shoe in her wardrobe, she starts to draw up a list of everything she wants to buy gradually reconciling herself to the big win.
It’s a sign of the tough economic period France is going through that films like this are preaching thrift and a return to life’s basic necessities Jocelyn has a house, family, friends and a job she loves – obviously wealth on a different scale to mere money in the bank. So how could winning 18 million euros possibly make a difference? Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, Le Pêcheur reinforces the ‘count your blessings’ message so many times it loses all meaning. Any mention of the benefits of being a multi-millionaire plunge Jocelyn into gloom and despondency. Her wish-list itself if a triumph of good housekeeping and economic sense – a couscous maker, a top of the range steam iron…
The film is crying out for some light relief – even a smile or two from Jocelyn and her entourage. Seigner is a punchy, feisty actor who could have done more with the role Only the scenes with her father (Patrick Chesnais) who has Alzheimers have any genuine emotion. Lavoine is woefully miscast while the supporting actors struggle to breathe life into this downbeat, joyless film.
DIRECTOR’S BIO – DIDIER LE PECHEUR