Audrey Tautou (star of Amélie) shimmers like a born movie star in Happenstance. A woman on the morning train tells Tautou that the full moon will lead her to her soulmate; from there, Happenstance follows a marvelous inter... more »locking series of events, in which little things (like whether or not a young museum guard eats a piece of chocolate) affect bigger ones (like whether or not an adulterous husband will tell his wife the truth). The numerous characters intersect with each other's lives, creating a web of coincidences that finally catches Tautou like a hapless fly. This could have been cloying and forced, but the writing and directing are so deft and subtle that the coincidences of Happenstance feel natural and compelling. A sweet and hopeful movie, with excellent performance all around, but Tautou's wide-open eyes leap out of her every scene, hypnotic and charming. --Bret Fetzer« less
Marianna S. (Angeloudi) from HOLIDAY, FL Reviewed on 9/8/2012...
As an Audrey Tautou fan, I am always screening her films in the hopes that they might be suitable to show in my high school French classes. This one, due to one unfortunate scene, is not suitable for high school. There is one scene right at the beginning of the film, of a man having a post-coital cigarette with full frontal male nudity, which goes on for quite a while. The scene is completely gratuitous, unneeded, and pointless. There is nothing objectionable in the rest of the film, which would have been fun to watch with my students otherwise. Of course, my current students are not quite old enough to remember "The Butterfly Effect" (similar theme/story) or "Just My Luck" with Lindsay Lohan (somewhat similar theme). Happenstance reminded me of both those films. I liked the varied ages and circumstances of the many characters, as well as their various beliefs in "luck," "chance" "fate," etc. An enjoyable, frothy movie.
The Beating of a Butterfly's WIng
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 12/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In France, Laurent Firode's "Happenstance" was released as "Le Battement d'Aile du Papillon" or "The Beating of a Butterfly's Wing." The saying goes: if a butterfly flutters his wings over the Atlantic Ocean it could eventually cause a hurricane in the Pacific. With this in mind, Firode set upon making a film in which the seemingly smallest "happenstance" can cause untold reprecussions; not only in lives per se but also in circumstances and situations.
The French have a unique perspective on life and love. Think "Venus Beauty Institute," "Amelie," "Get out your handkerchiefs," anything by Eric Rohmer or Francois Truffaut....and now "Happenstance," a romantic comedy with a number of chracters who pretty much, all in one way or another, come in contact with the other. It's like a smart, wryly humorous "Magnolia."
Audrey Tautou (Irene), so endearing in "Amelie," is part of a thoroughly diverse ensemble of actors and it is her first scene in the film that sets it in motion: she is approached on the Metro by a woman conducting a survey on shampoos(!) but who states her real forte is telling horoscopes. She asks Irene her birthdate which happens to be 3/11/77. The woman points out that as a full moon is imminent, Irene will find her true love that very day. After Irene de-metros slightly dazed and frankly skeptical, a young man, Younes (Faudel) tells the woman that 3/11/77 is also his birthdate. You don't have to be a genius or a Robert Altman fan to know that these two will meet again...some way, some how...before night falls.
A number of characters are introduced, all with love problems and relationship issues that somehow, and this is the magic of Firode's direction, resolve themselves logically or not by the film's end; nevermind that a "Destiny Man" is introduced (Gilbert Robin) to comment as well as help the proceedings along.
"Happenstance" ( a terrible title, by the way) is about Fate and Chance and Luck; and how we, as poor vulnerable, feeling human beings avail ourselves of these things to nab...whatever bit of Love and Happiness, the real things of Value, that we can."
A Small but Charming Film
Charles | Antioch, CA United States | 01/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like many who've been caught under the immaculate spell of the charming and talented French actress, Ms. Audrey Tautou of Amelie, I too have begun my own personal obsession of searching and exploring her other works.Happenstance is my second film after Amelie, and judging from other reviews, I was to expect a much smaller film in scope. And that basically what Happenstance is. It may not be as elaborate or artistic as Amelie, but it's a wonderfully fun film nontheless. It involves a number of varying characters and the actions they take throughout the movie have adverse effects on each other, which make for a cleverly fabricated plot that jumps you from character to character. The story itself, is not heavy or thick by any means mind you, but rather it allows the audience to follow these characters from different points of views and how the role of chance plays between these characters. And it's one of those movies where you can go back through it again and again and pick up important plot subtelties that you may have missed the first time through.Audrey Tautou may not have too much of a presense in the movie as some may have hoped for (that would include myself), but she does do a terrific job playing her part nontheless. With so many characters to take in, there was only so much time given to Audrey (and any character for that matter). Also, for people expecting to see the same starry eyed and cheerfully adorable Audrey from Amelie, will find Happenstance a joyous treat. She smiles a lot less in this movie than in Amelie but her charm is still as evident as ever. Again, it's a small film, and may appear very simple on the surface, but some who are willing to take a deeper look, will probably find its brilliantly crafted intricacies underneath. It might have been unfair to compare Happenstance with Amelie, but since the cover of the DVD shouts out loud "the star of Amelie," it was inevitable to measure the two. It may also be helpful to note that I did hold a much greater appreciation for the movie on my second time through, partly due because I had to watch the crummy VHS version, but mainly because I picked up more things that I hadn't before. Anyone that likes a good romantic comedy should definitely check this movie out if your interested at all, and if you're an Audrey fan, there's no reason why you shouldn't be watching this now. It's a fun and entertaining movie at heart that I definitely recommend."
Deeds & Consequences
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 11/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Irène (Audrey Tautou) sits on the subway on her way to work when a woman reads her horoscope and tells her that she will find her love today if she is patient. Meanwhile, there are numerous actions taken by many characters like a pick pocket thief, a roommate, an ex-boyfriend, a cheating husband, a nervous wife, a drunk biker, a senile grandmother, an illegal alien, a bar tender, a pigeon, and many others. These actions effect other events taking place in the city of Paris where Irène lives and they will lead Irène to her love. Happenstance is an appealing film about the random deeds that humans choose to do everyday and how these acts ripple through society influencing the individuals living in it."
Karma and a butterfly's wings
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 02/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You know the old saying about the "butterfly effect," that the beating of a butterfly's wings can set off a storm over the Amazon jungle. That idea is half the basis of "Happenstance" (original title: "Le Battement d'ailes du papillon" -- more on butterflies), a sweet little French bit of froth that will leave you warm and fuzzy.Irène (Audrey Tautou) is on the subway to her job when a woman doing surveys tell her the horoscope: She will meet her true love that day. The handsome young man, Younès (Faudel) who sees her, has the same birthday and same horoscope. Coincidence? There is no such thing in this film. Elsewhere, an indecisive man promises his mistress Elsa that he will tell his wife that he wants a divorce. Fallen leaves, tossed stones, discarded sneakers, a mugger's yellow jacket, heads of lettuce, Algerian sand, uneaten chocolates and nose injuries all affect Irène and the people who brush by her in everyday life. After the end of that fateful day, nobody's life will be quite the same. Some people will come home, some will make break up, some will miss dates, and some will live happily ever after. "Sliding Doors" was a shaky but interesting romantic comedy, and "Run Lola Run" was frenetic and full of visual gimmicks. But the slower-paced, more forthright "Happenstance" may be the most interesting look at how little things can change our lives -- it's not just one person's life, with a few people affected around him or her. Instead, it's a dozen or so, whose lives change for better or worse because of little things. What little things? A head of lettuce falls off a truck and causes a bike crash. A pebble fails to get through a modern sculpture, causing a man to lie to his mistress. A thousand little innocent events cause major changes in people's lives. But above the idea of chaos theory is the concept of fate and karma: You know that forces are slowly driving Irène and her soulmate together. A few bad things may happen to the two future lovers along the way, but they are just stepping stones.Cinematography is nothing special, but nice and somehow makes Paris look like more than a postcard, with the subways, grubby side streets and sparkling night skies. The intricate script is bound to trip itself up a few times. A couple of storylines are left mildly unresolved. And perhaps the most intriguing character -- the enigmatic "Destiny Man", who seems to be all-knowing -- appears once and then never again. How does he know other people's plans and secrets? We're never told. (Maybe the guy is supposed to be God)Tautou displays a different kind of acting from the charming "Amelie." Here, she's more downbeat and outspoken, but gradually softens as she comes to realize that things don't happen purely by accident. Faudel is a good counterpart to Tautou, quiet and unassuming, but quite sweet. The dozens of supporting actors are given less to do, but are charming too.Do you believe in fate and true love, that somehow you'll be drawn together with your soulmate, the one meant specially for you? If you do (even a little bit), then "Happenstance" will charm you."
Let It Happen To You!
V. Marshall | North Fork, CA USA | 08/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It seems the butterfly effect is alive and dancing in Paris as portrayed in this sweet French film.
Audrey Tautou is her usual brilliant self as a young girl who sets out on a Metro one day, for work, only to have her entire life change because of the actions of other people. Tautou loses her job and the day spirals into more of the same leaving her deflated and without hope, but on her way out of Paris things begin to change and another great French film is born.
This film is filled with a cast of interesting characters who manage to change and shape the lives of the strangers around them. A dirty bum falls at someone's feet, a married man bases his decision to tell his wife on a skipping stone, chocolate and coffee even have their own distinct roles.
Mixed within all of the sweetness of this film is the subtle message of cause and affect. In the matter of a day each and every person causes a reaction based upon their own actions. It is an interesting concept to ponder because it shows how the world is tied together as one whether we like it or not. But the best thing about this movie is that it conveys the fact that even on our worst days, where nothing seems to go right, we all have something interesting waiting for us around the bend and under the watchful eye of a bright full moon that shines the world over. "