Tout pour être Heureux – Cyril Gelblat

Unknown-21Cyril Gelblat’s bitter-sweet romantic comedy is lifted out of the ordinary by the touching performance of Manu Payet as Antoine, a fortyish failed musician forced to face up to his adult responsibilities.  It’s a coming of age film with a twist.  Antoine’s passage into maturity comes late but is as painful and poignant as any during adolescence.  Gelblat neatly avoids the mawkish and overly sentimental and has coaxed great performances from the two young actors playing Payet’s daughters Rafaèle (the director’s own daughter Rafaèle) and Leo (Jaoia Caltagirone). Boosted by a witty clever script which includes several priceless one-liners, Gelblat’s second directorial full-length feature is a well-observed, funny film streets ahead of several recent French comedies.

Antoine and Alice (Audrey Lamy) have come to a crossroads in their marriage.  Increasingly left to bring up their two daughters on her own while Antoine pours his energy into his stuttering career as a music producer, Alice decides the relationship is over.  Antoine is used to running his life on his own terms and is completely thrown when she decides to go away for a few weeks leaving him to look after Leo and Rafaèle.  Although he was incapable of taking on the role of father when the family were still a unit, he now becomes a hands-on dad and begins to miss the life he had when he and Alice were still a couple.
Payet has had an interesting career path.  Born on the Island of Reunion, the overseas French department, he started out on local radio before being picked up by national music station NRJ to host its morning radio programme. This went on to become the most  listened to radio broadcast in France.  From there he progressed to TV sketch shows and later created his own successful One Man stage show. Usually found in lighter films, Payet has recently moved to more serious drama (Un Dèbut Prometteur) proving he is capable of playing more complex characters. Antoine is selfish, self-centred and immature.  And at the same time open, charming and vulnerable.  Lamy and Aure Atika as his sister Judith complete an excellent cast of secondary characters. And with music by upcoming French pop singer Joe Bel, what’s not to like!

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