For her fourth outing as director Anne Le Ny brings to the big screen a charming, romantic comedy based on one of the staples of French cinema – the love triangle. (Le Ny was Yvonne in the huge French hit movie Les Intouchables). On the surface, On a faille etre amies revolves around the story of two women vying for the affection of the same man, but Le Ny digs deeper and the true emotional heart of the film is the relationship between the women. It’s a funny, insightful., laid back look at the nature of female relationships – a subject often ignored by French filmmakers.
Maithé (Karin Viard) works as an advisor in an adult training centre. She is confident, good at her job and apparently living a fulfilled life surrounded by friends and family. Enter Carole (Emmanuelle Devos) who is seeking a change of career after working for years running a Michelin-starred restaurant on the outskirts of Orléans with her husband Sam (Roschdy Zem) . Carole’s marriage to Sam is on the rocks and she strikes up a friendship with Maithé in order to use her as an alibi for the double life she is leading. Gradually the two woman become close, but the situation turns complicated when Maithé meets Sam and they begin to fall in love. Maithé seizes the opportunity to use her friendship with Carole to break up their marriage and take Sam for herself.
And the question is raised – what price is put on female relationships when the love of a man is up for grabs? It’s an interesting dilemma and one Le Ny treats with admirable delicacy and humour. The two women are physically, character-wise and socially at opposite ends of the scale. Maithé blonde, career-oriented, passionate about her work contrasts sharply with the dark-haired Carole who is childless, unhappily married with an undemanding job in the shadow of a successful husband. But the friendship blossoms because fundamentally they are two sides of the same coin. Maithé admires Carole’s comfortable lifestyle while Carole is tougher and more devious than she appears. And the friendship endures because each woman learns something vital from the other.
On a failli être amies
is the first time Viard and Devos have worked together on film and they make a great team. Viard, who was outstanding in Solveig Anspach’s Lulu Femme Nue
is a formidable comic talent wonderfully matched by Devos’ performance as scatter-brained Carole. Alongside them Zem, who is more often seen in darker roles most notably as Messaoud Souniin in Rachid Bouchareb’s Les Indigènes
, more than adequately holds his own.
DIRECTOR’S BIO – ANNE LE NY
With the backdrop of the restaurant adding a delightful visual and sensory touch, On a failli être amies, rightly deserves a three-star rating.