Les horn­dogs de gay Pa­ree

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

THE PLAY­ERS ar­rives hav­ing hit the head­lines in France for a grue­some poster cam­paign in which the film’s stars posed be­tween a woman’s legs. Who cares as long as you have the bot­tom lady-half, right? We couldn’t ac­cuse the film-mak­ers of false ad­ver­tis­ing – the word “risqué” might have been in­vented for this icky French adul­tery com­edy.

Ar­riv­ing hot on the heels of the sim­i­larly un­en­light­ened Gal­lic maid-chaser The Women on the 6th Floor, this er­ratic port­man­teau fea­tures Gilles Lel­louche and Os­car-win­ner Jean Du­jardin (who also co-wrote it) as a va­ri­ety of wan­der­ing beaux.

An epic open­ing se­quence in which the two hus­tlers end up in sex­ual syn­chronic­ity un­der two bounc­ing ladies fore­grounds the

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friv­o­lous tone. Throughout, they’re lightly mocked: Du­jardin raps along to some woe­be­got­ten French hip-hop, sports at least two lu­di­crous hair­cuts and goes sad sack for the Michel Hazanavi­cius episode ( The Good Con­science) as a cor­po­rate un­der­ling hop­ing to score dur­ing a busi­ness con­ven­tion.

If only the other seg­ments were as re­as­sur­ingly par­o­dic. Mostly the film un­folds as a se­ries of sex­ual ad­ven­tures in which the two­some don dif­fer­ent jobs, clothes and ori­en­ta­tion. The aim re­mains what Erica Jong once called the “zi­p­less fuck”. The tone is un­set­tlingly blithe.

The tran­si­tions be­tween dif­fer­ent di­rec­tors’ ef­forts can make for fun jux­ta­po­si­tion, and the chem­istry be­tween Du­jardin and Lel­louche is easy. Un­hap­pily, their on­screen qual­i­ties and the tonguein-cheek pre­sen­ta­tion aren’t nearly enough to atone for the rife misog­yny that per­vades al­most ev­ery chap­ter.

Polisse writer-star Em­manuelle Ber­cot’s The Ques­tion, fea­tur­ing Du­jardin along­side real-life wife Alexan­dra Lamy, is the ex­cep­tion that leaves us won­der­ing what the film might have been had looked like if more fe­male writ­ers and di­rec­tors had con­trib­uted.

Plus ça change. In com­mon with all port­man­teau pic­tures, the tech­ni­cal qual­i­ties and tone are wildly in­con­sis­tent. Eric Lar­ti­gau’s Lolita floun­ders; Alexan­dre Cour­tes’s os­ten­ta­tious ac­count of a sex ad­dict group fea­tur­ing San­drine Kiber­lain is whacky enough to win us over.

We look for­ward to Cour­tes’s de­but fea­ture, The In­ci­dent. But the rest is Ew-la-la.

Di­rected by Jean Du­jardin, Gilles Lel­louche, Em­manuelle Ber­cot, Fred Cavayé, Alexan­dre Courtès, Michel Hazanavi­cius, Jan Kounen and Eric Lar­ti­gau. Star­ring Jean Du­jardin, Gilles Lel­louche, Guil­laume Canet, Is­abelle Nanty, Geral­dine Nakache, Alexan­dra Lamy, San­drine Kiber­lain, Manu Payet, Mathilda May, Clara Pon­sot Le jerke: Jean Du­jardin in one episode of The Play­ers

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