Le prénom / What's in a Name (2012)

Vincent: "I just wanted to make a joke."
By Alexandre de La Patellière et Matthieu Delaporte
With Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguiguin and Charles Berling

Recommended to me by my brother as an example of clever and comical writing, I decided to give Le prénom a chance despite my usual wariness of french films.

Élisabeth (nicknamed Babou) and Pierre, a couple of respectively high school and college teachers invite Claude, a best friend and confidant who grew up close to Babou's family and Vincent, Babou's brother, with his wife Anna who is expecting their first child. Anna is late and they start questioning Vincent about the child because they just got out of the echography. He says they know the gender and then they ask whether they have ideas of first names to which Vincent answers that they actually know exactly what they'll name him...

The dialogues are cleverly written and the intro scene is one of the most funny I've seen in quite some time. The famous first name cacophony that ensues is well thought of but I didn't find it that interesting. I have to say it started from a good idea but it resumed in shouting and arguments which despite denoting interesting view points felt like they led nowhere.

Maybe it was the acting that prevented me from enjoying the lines as I felt everything was overacted through overreaction. Past the first instance of the first name issue (which should remain unspoilered) the film resumes into a more conventional dinner party play where deep hatreds and secrets amongst friends unravel and when one character comes clean there is always another one getting hurt. This might be a staple of french comedies as I can recall a few movies/plays that unfold along the exact same idea that a dinner party can be the recipe for fun or disaster, depending which side you are on.

I liked: Well written. Brings up some good topics.

I disliked: Relies heavily on stereotypes. Shouting appears to be the way to get a point across. Personally didn't like the acting.

I would say it is quite a typical french comedy, but I actually haven't seen enough of them to really dare say such a thing.


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