Writer/director Julie Delpy is better known to international audiences as Celine opposite Ethan Hawke in Richard Linkater’s successful trio of films, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise and Before Midnight. Lolo is her sixth feature behind the camera after the award winning 2 Days in New York with American stand-up comedian Chris Rock. Here she has drafted in Dany Boon to boost the film’s comic credentials, but even the man behind the most successful French film of all time, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, cannot breathe life into this limp comedy with its tired formula based on the attraction of opposites and the hilarious, or not, consequences. There are definite shades of the blunt, sexual frankness found in US films such as Bridesmaids or TV series like Sex and the City in the relationship between Violette (Delpy) and her best friend Ariane (Karin Viard). And these scenes are the funniest although sadly thin on the ground. Lolo (Vincent Lacoste) is Violette’s young son. Outwardly, friendly and eager to please he is in reality a manipulative, scheming young man with a rampant oedipal complex. His relationship with the straight-laced Jean-René looks set to provide most of the laughs, but Viard easily outshines even the masterful Boon.
Violette is on a spa-vacation in the south of France when she meets Jean-René through a mutual friend. Encouraged by Ariane, this Parisian, high-flying fashion consultant has a brief fling with the staid, conformist computer programmer Jean-René. The relationship becomes more serious when he is transferred to Paris to work and meets Violette’s son, Lolo. Although Lolo seems to be going out of his way to please his mother by encouraging her relationship, he is determined to break up the affair and make sure he remains the only man in Violette’s life.
It’s a mystery why the poster for Lolo
is a parody of the one for the award-winning 1962 film Lolita
. Stanley Kubrick’s film is the tale of a middle-aged man’s obsession with a 14-year-old nymphet while Lolo
……isn’t. At a push both Lolo and Lolita conceal a devious and conniving nature beneath an outwardly innocent appearance but there the similarities end. Delpy’s portrayal of women in their mid-forties as successful and sexually emancipated is to be applauded. Viard is brilliant as the caustic, Samantha Jones-like figure who sees men as her equal. Violette conforms more to type. Her relationship with Jean-René is based on traditional notions of fidelity and social acceptance and finding that delicate balance between motherhood, career and romance.
Boon’s name on the credits is usually a guarantee of success at the French box-office. Last year’s Supercondriaque
attracted an audience of over five million and 2013’s Eyjafjallajokull,
1.7 million. Of course, neither were as successful as 2008’s Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis
with over 20 million admissions. Pitching him against upcoming young star Lacoste is a shrewd move. So far Lacoste has moved easily between comedy (The French Kissers, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women
) and serious drama (Hippocrate
, Diary of a Chambermaid)
. But this clam-mouthed actor does seem more naturally suited to comedy exuding a cheeky irreverance which is hard not to like. And the brinkmanship between Boon and Lacoste is amusing if verging on the childishly slapstick and unoriginal side.
DIRECTOR’S BIO – JULIE DELPY
2012 2 Days in New York
2011 Le Skylab
2009 La comtesse
2007 2 Days in Paris
2002 Looking for Jimmy