As 2014 came to a close, one final shot at raising a smille opened in cinemas with Christian Clavier – the King Midas of French comedy – in the lead role. Patrice Leconte’s Une Heure de Tranquillité reunites the director with Clavier who appeared in his string of hugely successful French comic films Les Bronzés. Clavier has already proved his pulling power with this year’s most successful film at the box office, Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu (Serial (Bad) Weddings). The popularity of that film makes Clavier the only actor to have starred in four of the most popular French films of the last two decades. Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre, Les Visiteurs, Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu? and Les Bronzés 3: Amis pour la vie. He was also in last year’s top grossing French film, Les Profs alongside popular French stand-up comedian, Kev Adams.
Clavier is Michel Leproux, a jazz music fan who stumbles by chance on a rare album he has been looking for to complement his music collection. All he wants is to go home and listen to the music in the quiet of his own home. But circumstances dictate otherwise and his peace is shattered by a stream of unwelcome distractions.
There is nothing subtle about Michel’s character. The title of the album he discovers Me, Myself, I, is pretty much his philosophy in life. While Leconte has said the film addresses the issue of whether modern day living leaves enough time for people to relax and enjoy life, there’s not much deep analysis going on here. It’s essentially the story of a selfish, misanthrope who in the end gets what he deserves. It’s part farce, part comedy, with a bit of father/son pathos thrown in for good measure all overseen by Clavier in superb form. Running at just one hour twenty minutes there is no time for the pace to flatten and the action winds up and down in fine fashion.
Figures show 2014 is set to be a bumper year for French cinema with an estimated 210 million tickets sold by the end of New Year’s Eve, almost 10% more than last year. Comedies such as Qu’est ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu, La Famille Belier and Supercondriaque have played a part in this success and Leconte’s entertaining film deserves to join them.