"Let nature have its way."
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Oh those French, they love their food, wine and sex. Cote d'Azur is all about how they enjoy the pleasures of life; it's a sweet-natured erotic comedy, a somewhat silly but enjoyable French sex farce made with collaboration of writer-directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau.
Ensconced at the family place on the Mediterranean and bracing for relaxation, Beatrix (a fabulous Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) decides, that her son Charly (Romain Torres), and his friend Martin (Edouard Collin) are gay. Beatrix prides her self on being ultra-tolerant, so her reaction is not one of distress, but relief.
Her husband Marc (Gilbert Melki) doesn't want to believe her. He's more concerned with the fact that he's been disinherited from a distant aunt, although he does stew virtuously and drops inopportune warnings about AIDS to the two boys and the dinner table.
Charly, however, severely denies his parents accusations, while Martin is out and proud, intent to cruise the beachside cliffs at night. Meanwhile, Beatrix is having an affair with her lover Mathieu (Jacques Bonnaffe), who has the disconcerting habit ringing her on her cell phone at all hours of the night and of popping out naked from bushes naked.
And then there's Didier, a hunky plumber (Jean-Marc Barr), who takes a liking to Charly, yet also hides a secret love. Marc gets turned on when he spies Martin pleasuring himself in the shower. Marc and Beatrix are an indeed an odd couple who somehow make it work.
Much of the drama comes from whether there will be enough hot water for everyone to take a shower and it isn't long before almost everyone's doing it, or trying to do it with each other. 'Côte d'Azur heaps on the ludicrous misunderstandings to a breaking point, and just when you think it couldn't get any more absurd, there's a perky little musical number sung by Marc and Beatrix to the two boys on a rainy day.
The movie is sexy without really being that sexy - a little more nudity and bawdiness would probably have made the proceedings a little more fun. Admittedly, the talk is sexually frank but without being the least bit dangerous, or even titillating. And although infidelities and betrayals are the name of the game, no one actually gets hurt, no matter how indecorous the disclosure.
The performances are generally fun, and the scenery is absolutely stunning, but the tacky musical number at the end of the film leaves a lot to be desired, and the script often lacks the biting wit than one should expect from this kind of film. In one scene Beatrix says: ''Let's just say I find the situation a little tacky," I suppose you could say that in once sense, she's quite right! Mike Leonard May 06.
French Fluff Farce Surveys Pansexuality
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The French have always been able to take issues involving sexuality, fidelity, relationships, and youth and create a healthy fun discussion: Hollywood still has problems even approaching these subjects, much less allowing itself to be lighthearted and universal. 'Crustaces et coquillages' (COTE D'AZUR) is a little French film that addresses these subjects in a manner so light and fun that the viewer wonders what all the puritanical fuss is about!
It is summer on the Cote d'Azur and a fun couple Marc (Gilbert Melki) and Béatrix (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) are vacationing in a wonderful beach house with their teenage kids Charly (Romain Torres) and Laura (Sabrina Seyvecou) where Marc lived as a youth. Laura immediately takes off to Portugal with her biker boyfriend and Charly spends his days with his friend Martin (Edouard Collin), an openly gay teenager who is in love with Charly. Beatrix observes the boys' interactions and decides her son is gay, a fact that doesn't bother her at all but that seems to cause problems for Marc. Béatrix's lover Mathieu arrives on the scene, declaring his desire for Beatrix to leave Marc: Beatrix isn't so sure - she loves Marc and her family, but also wants her summer lover.
In a series of hilarious shower sequences Charly pleasures himself, and indeed the entire crew in the house does the same, and Martin's advances to Charly are rebuffed forcing Martin to seek outlet at the beach's notorious fort section. Marc decides to thwart Charly's excessive 'use' of the shower and unplugs the hot water. Charly calls a plumber Didier (Jean-Marc Barr), who just happens to be the hunky ex-lover of Marc, having had a gay affair before Marc married Beatrix. In following each other around, Charly discovers Martin and Didier and then Marc and Didier en flagrant and then walks in on Beatrix and Mathieu: everyone's secret is out! But instead of a disaster, the cast suddenly breaks into a silly showbiz musical number blaming all the infidelities and facets of love on the `violets' (the aphrodisiac of oysters!). It is a cuckoo ending and would have been a better film without it, but the acting is all so rich and fine and the story is so well told, that this little diversion can be excused. This is a fun fling, with a superb cast having a good time (especially the extraordinarily gifted Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). The story makes us laugh and think - all in a setting that is like a dream vacation! Enjoy and have fun! Grady Harp, June 06"
Past meets the Present
Terran | Sunny CA USA | 06/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Your dad stole Didier!" In a film that features four couples, that seems the summation. With a sister gone off to Portugal, the family has a spare room available, and the young and poetically lovely - but sexually neutral - son, Charly, invites the friend he hadn't seen in a year. They are trying to re-establish the friendship, which hit a rough patch with Martin's crush on Charly. Though Charly isn't coming across now, either, at least Martin finds an outlet in late night romps at the Cote d'Azur "fort" - a palace of rocks where gay or bi men go to make assignations. But it is Charly, following Martin - whom he doesn't like out of his sight, for some reason - who makes a connection with the soon-to-be-infamous Didier, a hunky plumber who has a taste for dominance games in sex and is ready to lay claim to the land that is Charly. However, Didier has a shock when realizing this boy is actually the son of his first and long lost love, Marc. Turns out he may have handcuffs at home, and like a bit of rough play, but sexy Didier is really a lovesick fool, and he earns our sympathy right away. In fact, he may be the nicest character of all, leaving you to know not to accept anybody at first glance. Marc, who's married to Beatrix, has returned to Cote d'Azur after a 25-year absence. The presence of Martin along with Charly is reminding Marc too forcibly of his own youth and sexual freedom, so he is growing taut with pressure and ready to explode. But Marc and Beatrix have a happy marriage, or maybe she is feeling shortened on the excitement level, making that the only excuse for her having an affair with the less-than-average looking lover, Mathieu (the only non-hunk in the cast, btw). Mathieu has followed her, intent with indiscreet sexual activity to force the knowledge of the affair out there, hoping he can have Beatrix full-time. This gets old fast. Literally, after a time, you wonder if this couple would be capable of sex in something as mundane as a bed. Mathieu and Beatrix are both two-dimensional characters in this farce, and that's a problem because the camera settles on Beatrix too often. She early on jumps to the wrong conclusion, that her son is gay, and is intent on brow-beating her husband into accepting his son's homosexuality (the irony she's not aware of). And as she preaches tolerance, and states you either are or you are not, she seems to miss not only the point but the big picture, that not only is her son not gay, but her husband is (or at least bi), and that there is a middle ground on tolerance, and it is known as reason or rationality. In short, instead of a wise and worldly woman, she is a fool, but the film doesn't seem to realize this, so caught up is the director in protraying her as a goddess while Beatrix is projecting her self-image. With Mathieu, Beatrix's present has come to slap her in the face, just as Marc's past slugs him when he and Didier come face-to-face. But Didier desires Marc all over again, and soon is initiating a confrontation reminiscent of his handcuffs, then when the two men part amicably, he gives a familial two-cheek kiss to Marc, who backs off when Didier moves in for the mouth. (In addition to the handcuff reference, this scene will be turned-around later when it is Marc pulling in Didier for a kiss.) Rebellious teen Charly witnesses the farewell, and wonders at it, but has been confused enough by the frustration he is causing Martin, that he doesn't confront his father over the denial of any friendship with Didier. In fact, in an act of charity, Charly wants to pair off Didier with Martin, and long-suffering (over Charly) Martin is eager for this, setting up the film's finale. The film-makers are partners off-screen as well as on, and is there any point to the fact the straight-acting actors play gay and the more effeminate actors play straight? But the main problem with the film, is too many scenes are missing, dialogue left to be assumed by the audience. This gets annoying. For a broad-comedy, this is in fact quite subtle, so you'd better pay attention and fill in the blanks. There is no reason the film couldn't have been fleshed out, paced better, not so many quick cuts as if afraid the audience would grow bored. The plus is attempting to deal with so many issues in one film: rebellious teen, straight-gay friendship, unrequited love, a straight marriage for a gay or bi, adultery for the sake of it. And the cast is more than up to the challenge, in fact, since the film's pacing and dialogue often fall short, it is in the actor's expressions you get a sense of what's really going on, what the audience is supposed to assume and not just take for granted. It is because of the performances you get a feel for these characters as they are fleshed out, less so with Beatrix, who never seems to evolve. Particular care with casting, so no fault to be had there, you can even see where Charly could be Marc's son - same wavy dark hair and dark eyes, full lips, you get a feeling Didier is putting one face over another in recalling his lost love. And wonderful rapport between Marc and Didier (Gilbert Melki & Jean-Marc Barr) who have to convey tender regard for each other, yearning as well as passion, and a mutual history, in their few scenes together - like being thrown into the deep end of a pool, only excellent actors could bring it off. it's the direction that fell apart here, not the actors or the concept, but the pacing. But don't get me started on the musical segments of the film, I am practicing memory blockout there, or the rating would go down. Best to skip over those."