Best friends since they were children, Marius (Raphael Personnaz) and Fanny (Victorie Belezy) find themselves at something of a crossroads in their lives. Fanny is being courted by the local rich businessman Panisse (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), much to the chagrin of her mother since he is several decades older than his would-be wife. Meanwhile, Marius is working away with his father Cesar (Daniel Auteuil) in their sea-front bar, and while it is obvious that Marius doesn't want Fanny to marry Panisse, he also can't commit himself to a relationship with her, due to a life-altering secret of his.
Based on a series of plays, which were based on a series of novels, writer, director and star Auteuil does his best to inject some cinematic life into this story, but unfortunately the movie arrives without much of a pulse. The fault can't be laid at the actors feet, who all bring a certain level of spark and vigour, with Personnaz all dark and moody longing, and the stunning Belezy playfully zipping around the entire emotional spectrum. Auteuil too has some very funny scenes with Fanny's mother Honorine (Marie-Anne Chazel), with their old-school approach to some very old-school scenarios - sex BEFORE marriage? GASP! - raising a few chuckles.
No, the problems are with the characters and story itself. Fanny finds great delight in dangling her potential partnership with Panisse in front of Marius' nose, effectively toying with the hearts of two men at once, but yet we're supposed to sympathise with her. Marius, on the other hand, turns out to be a bit of a selfish fool once that "secret" of his is fully revealed, and you'll immediately question why he has set up such a labyrinthine layer of lies and cover-ups for something so incidental.
Marius is the first part of a trilogy, with a vaguely cliffhanger-y ending leading directly to the events in Fanny (released here on the same day), and concluding with Cesar, due sometime in the future. While the quality of the movies is set to improve, this starting off point will make it difficult to want to return.