Fandango’s Provocative Question (15 December 2021)

Prompt image for the Fandango's Provocative Question prompt

Fandango Provocatively asks:

What movie, if any, can you practically quote from start to finish?

I had some unexpected time today so thought I’d write this.

I’m not big on movies. In general, I think there are lots of problems to solve out in the real world, and that movies are just a distraction.

That said, I do have a favourite movie. It’s a French one. I won’t go into how the quality of French movies is, in general, so much higher than anything from Hollywood, but…

It’s a comedy called Le Bonheur est dans le PrΓ©, which translates roughly as “happiness is in the field”. It’s from the early Nineties and something for UK readers, it was Eric Cantona’s first acting role after he retired. For non-UK readers, Cantona was a big soccer star. I rate him as the best I ever saw.

It’s about a haggered guy. He’s having health issues, business issues, wife issues. Not to mention his daughter…

… and one evening this programme is on tv. Called “Where are you?” and as you might guess, it’s people looking for mispers. On comes this woman, “last saw my husband thirty years ago”, and shows a photo which is the spitting image of this guy.

Turns out, she runs her own farm down in the south-west of France. It’s set in a place called Condom – I’ll put it on a map below. Probably the best description I can give of that part of the world is that it’s the kind of perfect place I would happily have ended up. That’s probably where a lot of the movie’s charm comes from.

Anyway, because his current life is so shitty, he plays along, ends up meeting this woman, staying with her down there, basically becoming a farmer. So it’s a real “back to nature” movie.

The actors are notable. The lead is a guy called Michel Serrault. He was a big actor in France, and did plenty of movies. English-speaking readers might have seen him in the original Cage aux Folles, before the Robin Williams remake.

His sidekick is played by a guy called Eddy Mitchell. I think it’s amusing that he grew up in an era were all things American were hip, so a bunch of these up-and-coming rock singers, wanting to be cool, took on American stage names. Mitchell crossed over into acting and, in this movie, is brilliant. A lot of the comedy is down to him.

We lost Serrault in 2007 (he was aged almost eighty) but Mitchell is still going, aged 79.

If you ever stumble across it, it’s well worth the watch.

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