Adopte a Veuf – François Desagnat

Unknown-22Director François Desagnat tries to surf the current trend of flat-sharing – a relatively new concept in France, but one that is gaining ground among the younger generation – for his pedestrian comedy which relies on tried and tested formula for laughs. The title is a riff on the name of the popular French dating website Adopte un Mec, so Desagnat has got his cultural contemporary references neatly lined up. But once the initial premise is locked-in Desagnat’s film has nowhere new to go.  Andre Dussollier is, as always, highly entertaining as the recently widowed Hubert Jacquin who is co-erced into renting out an empty room in his lavish apartment to a peppy young student Manuela (Bérengère Krief). But even his exceptional talent is not enough to keep this disappointing film afloat.

Hubert is having trouble adjusting to his new life after the recent death of his beloved wife. He spends most of his day wallowing on the sofa watching daytime television until fate brings Manuela to his door looking for a room to rent. This resourceful young woman persuades Hubert of the necessity to rent out the empty rooms in his apartment to other lodgers. Soon Hubert finds himself sharing his lavish apartment with lawyer Paul-Gérard (Arnaud Ducret) whose has recently seperated from his wife and a shy, young nurse (Julia Piaton). But Hubert quickly discovers living with a group of strangers brings with it a new set of problems.

While Desagnat makes the right noises in addressing the real problem of affordable rental property in Paris, this sketchy social subtext is quickly lost in favour of a string of predictable, somewhat dated gags. And too much of the comedy relies on the relationship between the world-weary Hubert and the pollyannish Manuela. Add in a couple of unlikely sub-plots and Desagnat’s fifth full-length feature soon loses focus and falls back on mawkish sentimentality. Worth a look for Dussollier’s solid performance, but ultimately soon forgotten.



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