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  All Hands On Deck Holiday Romance
Year: 2020
Director: Guillaume Brac
Stars: Eric Nantchouang, Salif Cisse, Edouard Sulpice, Asma Messaoudene, Anna Blagojevic, Lucie Gallo, Martin Mesnier, Nicolas Pietri, Cecile Feuillet, Jordan Rezgui
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Felix (Eric Nantchouang) is a student who works part time as a carer for the elderly, but just the other day he was having the time of his life with a young lady, Alma (Asma Messaoudene), dancing the night away until they slept in the park under the stars, it was wonderful. Understandably, Felix does not wish to let this experience slip into the past, so finds out Alma is currently on holiday with her family and decides to surprise her: he will show up at the camping resort and they will allow their brief romance to blossom properly. He does need some moral support, of course, and takes along his friend Cherif (Salif Cisse) who is a student as well, and could do with a break from work, so they hire a carpool driver, Edouard (Edouard Sulpice) to take them to their destination...

Except Edouard was expecting a couple of lovely ladies of his own, and is dismayed when they turn out to be a pair of blokes, which does not get their journey off to a great start. It does, on the other hand, allow not only the audience to get to know the main three characters, but the cast to get to know them as well, for this was a film conceived by director Guillaume Brac as a kind of exercise for a class of acting students to gain some professional experience before the end of their course. As a result, you might be wary, anticipating some dodgy over or underacting, but nothing could have been further from the truth as the players inhabited their roles with easy confidence and created genuinely engaging personalities out of them, with the able assistance of Monsieur Brac.

Not that there were not cringey moments here, as while the characters were grownups in theory, in actuality they are just starting out on their adulthood and working out what their place is in this world and where they should be forging relationships. Is Felix onto a winner with Alma? Hmm, would you like to be surprised by someone you thought was a one-night stand showing up at your holiday to rekindle that spark you had, or he believed you had? At best, you could say he was optimistic and doing his utmost to make something positive out of the situation, though alternatively, well, does anyone really like surprises? Even surprises the surpriser intends to be pleasant? Or especially those, when a spot of forward planning that included fair warning would not have gone amiss. Anyway, suffice to say, you can accurately predict Felix is going to be disappointed.

And yet, he's a cheery chap who deserves a break, as all three of the chaps here do, though the break Edouard gets is when his mum's car is in a minor collision it will nevertheless take a week to fix - can't get the parts, say the mechanics, it's the same old story the world over. But as well as personal independence, a more important lesson is to be learned: nobody is ever completely independent anyway, indeed relying on other people is not a weakness, it can be a strength. No, Felix was foolhardy in his endeavours, but Cherif meets a young single mother and makes himself useful by helping out with her baby, and aside from a wobble where he worries he is being taken for granted, he ends up happier than any of his companions, not that there was a particularly unhappy ending here, just some social awkwardness and embarrassment to get over, as everyone goes through, before allowing that to make them a better person. The question of how far a man should go to secure a partner was in the background to all this, and Felix could have been overbearing with a few script tweaks, yet we do like these people and can see, whatever their flaws, they mean well. If a little slight, it was a sweet story.

Aka: A l’abordage

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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