The French Film Festival has been in Melbourne for the past few weeks and, unlike other years where I worked myself up into a frenzy trying to cram as many movies into three weeks as possible, this year I took a calmer approach.
It helped that, with all the French visitors we’ve had lately, I’d already seen a few of the films in the lineup. But the film festival isn’t just about the movies themselves; it’s a fun, elegant experience in and of itself.
So, on the Labour Day public holiday a few Mondays ago I bullied Max and another friend into seeing La cerise sur le gâteau with me at the Como cinema in South Yarra. As we’d just finished a rather indulgent lunch of yum cha at the nearby Oriental Tea House, it was easier than usual to say no to the delicious looking cheese plate on offer. And, as it was a 37 degree day, we all passed on the wine (despite there being a particularly delicious Dominique Portet variety on the list) in lieu of cold diet cokes.
The film proved very popular, and we found ourselves allocated seats in the very front row. But I quickly forgot my awkwardly angled neck as the film began, and I found myself immediately caught up in the action on screen. Far from the saccharine-sweet Hollywood formula romantic comedies that one can see any day of the week, La cerise sur le gâteau was funny, smart and just a little offbeat.
It follows the story of Amanda, a single woman of a certain age who it seems, can find fault with every man on earth. Her friends see fit to intervene, bien sur, because that’s what friends are for, and what ensues is an amusing (though not overdone) series of events that find to Amanda opening her heart to Antoine, but only because she believes him to be gay.
Now I don’t want to go giving anything away, but when the credits rolled I felt compelled for the first time in my French movie-watching history to clap along with the other Frenchies in the audience. The ending was both funny and satisfying and unpredictable.
Finally, a French movie ending I can get onboard with!