Demain Tout Commence – Hugo Gélin

Director Hugo Gélin’s latest comedy is a sugar-coated tale of a dyed-in-the-wool bachelor whose life changes dramatically when he is literally left holding the baby.  It initially smacks of Coline Serreau’s 3 Hommes et Un Couffin  (Three Men and a Baby) as  Samuel  (Omar Sy) struggles to adapt to fatherhood, with its many demands and sacrifices. But there’s no denying the emotional depth of the relationship between the young Gloria (Gloria Colston) and Samuel as he tries to make up for the lack of a mother in the child’s life. Exactly why the film is set in London is a mystery, but the city benefits from a Hollywood-style make-over and is all clean streets and helpful, French-speaking strangers. Despite the obvious chemistry between Colston and Sy, it is all a little too contrived and underwhelming and strays into predictable territory when Gloria’s mother Kristin (Clémence Poésy) turns up after an 8-year absence.

Samuel leads the life of a carefree singleton working in a bar in the South of France until Kristen, an old-girlfriend, appears carrying a young baby she claims is Samuel’s daughter. Unable or unwilling to look after the child, she leaves for London leaving Samuel to fruitlessly track her down in the English capital.  A chance encounter with Bernie (Antoine Bernard), a French Canadian film producer, provides Samuel with a job and somewhere to live. Eight year’s later, Kristin reappears ready to have another chance at being Gloria’s mother. But has she left it too late?
Demain Tout Commence is a direct remake of the 2013 Spanish-language Instructions Not Included, which was a huge box-office success both at home in Mexico and the U.S. – the film made about $45 million on each side of the border. Casting Sy in the role of reluctant father certainly plays into his talents as a comic actor, but there’s no evidence here of the nuance and complexity he brought to the role of Driss in the award winning film, The Untouchables. Sy has struggled to reproduce the same level of intensity  in each film since The Intouchables, including Samba and Chocolat, and Gélin’s film will do little to reverse the trend. Similarly Poésy’s performance as Kristen is a wince inducing effort to create sympathy for a highly-unlikeable character  which spectacularly fails to hit the spot. Even the unexpected emotional twist at the end feels like too-little-too-late to rescue a film which never rises above the level of middle-of-the-road family entertainment.

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