Pascal Bonitzer’s new comedie de moeurs is a pleasant, lightweight piece of entertainment, very French in spirit. Downbeat Damien Hauer (Jean-Pierre Baccri, The Taste of Others), specialises in Chinese civilization, teaches businessmen how to handle their future partners in the Far East, because, as everyone knows, that is where the future lies. His theatre director wife Iva (Kristin Scott Thomas) stays out late every night preparing a Chekhov adaptation for the stage and their precocious bespectacled son Noe (Marin Orcand Tourrès) watches his parents’ marriage going stale.
A study of characters in crisis, smart, often witty but never over-dramatised, the film benefits from a series of unforced, natural performances. Baccri, comfortable, ruffled and unshaven, looks just like the kind of academic who’d be harassed by any demand taking him out of routine while Scott Thomas fits in perfectly as the spouse in need of fresh excitement without taking the time to consider the consequences. Isabelle Carré contributes a luminous presence as a restless young woman with a weakness for the wrong partners, and there is even a walk-on guest appearance by well-known stage and film director Benoit Jacquot as one of Damien’s chess-playing cronies.
Dan Fainaru, Screen International