For her directorial debut, Marilou Berry has chosen a follow-up to 2013’s moderately successful Joséphine directed by Agnès Obadia with Berry in the title role. Both films are based on the graphic novels by Pénélope Bagieu which follow the trials and tribulations of a 30-something single woman looking for love. Sounds familiar? The novels have been compared to Helen Fielding’s hugely successful Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason although those books tapped into a female mindset and lifestyle that is essentially Anglo-Saxon in nature and an ill-fit for a French chick-flick. Berry’s film is carried by her undoubted talent as a comic actress and she plays Joséphine with admirable energy and panache, but this fails to make up for a mediocre script and a predictable plotline.
It’s been two years since Joséphine met the perfect man – the non-smoking-great-cooking-cat-loving Gilles (Mehdi Nebbou). They have bought an apartment together and are madly, deeply in love despite their unwanted lodger Diane (Vanessa Guide) and Joséphine’s overbearing mother (Josiane Balasko, Berry’s real mother). Romantic dinners with Gilles, nights-out with the girl are part of the weekly routine until Joséphine discovers she is 10 weeks pregnant. Full of doubts over her maternel capacities and terrified she will turn into her own mother, her pregnancy is about to put her relationship with Gilles and the rest of her family to the test.
The success of the Bridget Jones films and American films like Bridesmaids show there is a definite audience for irreverent, sharp, well-observed comedies aimed at women. These films offered a fresh, original perspective on issues which hit a nerve with their target market. Berry’s film follows a path well-trodden and seems to lack the courage to push the madness and humour surrounding the unwanted pregnancy just that bit further into new territory. A scrappy subplot about her friend Sophie’s (Sarah Suco) inability to have sex with the man (Medi Saddoun) she loves never gets off the ground. Likewise Victoria Abril hamming it up as Gilles’ bohemian mother falls flat. Berry was excellent in Pascal Thomas’ otherwise uninspired black comedy Valentin Valentin but this film is not her most memorable.