Jean-François Richet’s entertaining remake of Claude Berri’s 1977 film is bang up-to-date with mobile phones, selfies, beach raves and Vincent Cassel and François Cluzet as the two fathers in charge of their libidinous teenage daughters during the long summer vacation. Cassel, who worked with Richet on the Jacques Mesrine films, (Killer Instinct and Public Enemy #1) plays against type to great effect as Laurent, the cool, hip, middle-aged dad who starts a relationship with his best friend’s under-age daughter while Cluzet hams it up as the clueless father who is out to find the man who has dabbled with his daughter’s affections. It’s all good fun and, given the explosive nature of the storyline, surprisingly tasteful, even oddly innocent. Richet’s focus on a father struggling to accept his daughter growing up deflects from the more ovetly sexual questions raised by the film while the mood is kept light and simple by the fast-paced banter between Cassel and Cluzet interspersed with moments of pure farce as Laurent tries to avoid telling Antoine the truth.
Laurent and Antoine are spending the summer vacation with their daughters Marie (Alice Isaaz) and Louna (Lola Le Lann). While the two fathers expect to spend quality time with their offspring, the two girls have different ideas and persuade their fathers to let them go clubbing and partying most nights with a group of friends. Louna soon tires of hanging out with a younger crowd and starts shyly flirting with Laurent. The two eventually kiss and Laurent becomes the unwitting victim of Louna’s adolescent obsession. Antoine, aware of Louna’s feelings for another man, is driven wild by the idea that someone has defiled his daughter and asks Laurent to help him find the culprit.
It must have helped Richet having Lisa Azuelos on board as a co-scriptwriter. Azuelos directed the 2008 surprise box-office success LOL and then went on to direct the American remake with Demi Moore and Miley Cyrus as the mother and teenage daughter struggling to define their relationship. Azuelos has a great feel for how the adolescent mind works and Louna’s switch between teenage temptress and childish brat is spot on, although this is 19-year-old Le Lann’s first cinematic role and she doesn’t quite have the confidence to be a fully convincing Lolita. She’s outplayed in every scene by Isaaz who proved her superior acting capabilities as the head of a prostitution ring at an elite French business school in Kim Chapiron’s La Crème de La Crème (Smart Ass). As Marie, she is the voice of reason and good sense recoiling in horror at what’s going on between her father and her young friend.
Richet casting Cassel as the laid back Laurent is inspired. Who would have thought an actor more usually associated with tough guys roles would have such a light, comic touch? There isn’t a middle-age crisis in sight as he is guiltily attracted to, and then regrets, his moment of weakness with the beautiful Louna. And while Cluzet comes dangerously close to going over-the-top, Cassel skillfully pulls him back from the edge and works his comedy magic. Fans of the original Berri film may not like what Richet has done, but those new to the story cannot fail to be won over to his side.
DIRECTOR’S BIO – JEAN-FRANCOIS RICHET