Directed by Maïwenn
Much like Lolo, I doubt I’d have seen this film if it were American. The French seem to do romance in a way that doesn’t feel forced, sentimental or clichéd, often with witty, quick humour to round things off. There are of course exceptions, but I haven’t seen many, and the only one I could list off the top of head is Brooklyn. A French film with the exact same plot synopsis as an American film will often be a different experience entirely. That was what I was hoping going into this, and happily I was right in my assumption. Mon Roi is a very different romantic comedy, though perhaps not-so-much by French standards.
We begin the film within beautiful snowy mountains where Tony is skiing downhill. The next thing we see is a doctors clinic, with a doctor who has a philosophical opinion on her simple knee injury and why it happened. The injury is severe and will take a long time and a lot of effort to get back onto her feet. While she is rehabilitating, her doctor’s comments trigger a series of memories as she recounts a high-powered relationship and marriage that preceded the accident.
In a move that initially feels jarring, we suddenly switch from the hospital to a nightclub, where we see her with friends and no injury. These transitions however soon fall into a flow of her recounting the relationship while she is recuperating her knee. In the club she catches the eye of Georgio, a man she had met once a long time before. She tries to approach him but he doesn’t remember her. However after Tony leaves the club, she is followed by Georgio, whose charm she can’t resist. This forces her entourage over to his place for an early breakfast. Her brother takes an immediate disliking to him, which Georgio doesn’t seem to notice or care about. Neither does Tony.
It doesn’t take long for them to develop a high-octane relationship, as they seem to fit perfectly, laughing and playfully teasing each other, while the bedroom isn’t the only place they do the dirty. To be honest, at first I thought these scenes of people rehabilitating serious leg injuries was a mirror to the story, as intense feelings of love can also be hard and tough, not to mention filled with obstacles that can make things even tougher. While I am guessing this was the intention, by film’s end you will have a much better idea of why the movie plays out like this.
Soon Georgio falls in love. Next he wants a child with her; his love is that strong. They succeed as Tony gives birth to a beautiful baby, but this wasn’t without problems, as the pregnancy is where the first cracks in the relationship start to show, as Tony starts to worry that the baby will sense the fact that the couple argue. Often. Tony is also prone to mood swings, while Georgio is a mysterious man who is very hard to read. What does become clear though his that their love for each other is what is causing their problems. Even after the birth of their son, they argue what to name him. The relationship becomes increasingly tense, as Tony is having mental problems post-birth, while Georgio is out living whatever life it is that he lives; one we never see. His wife’s problems seem far from his main priority.
But the reality is that they have a child whom they both love and want to raise and nurture. Georgio’s living habits however prompt a very strange living arrangement; the baby at one point skype chats with his father, as if a one-year-old can recognise his father from a pixelated computer image. What he is out doing, we still don’t know. We just know that this is not healthy; this is not a conventional relationship.
The rest of the story unravels in this manner, with the two having a bipolar-like relationship, arguing and crying, screwing and embracing – while always possessing an undying love for each other, not to mention a child together. The images of people rehabilitating throughout the film make increasing sense now; Tony is going through the same problems, only they are psychological. She is trying to rehabilitate a relationship, and that is where the drama really becomes apparent.
There is no perfect romance here, and viewers may very well find themselves watching a very familiar film, as few relationships are perfect. What I enjoyed most was Vincent Cassel in a role like this – he has a fantastic smile and he certainly displayed a slice of his acting chops that I had not seen before. Emmanuelle Bercot is a name I was not familiar with, but she certainly held her own opposite Cassel; both are brilliant and share excellent chemistry. The utter unpredictability of how their situation would end was another highlight. With such a wild (and violent) life together, we are asked, what will happen? Both to them and their baby? It is not easy to figure out, giving us a final act that reveals some key truths. This final act wasn’t as funny as the rest of the film, but it is powerful and will leave you pondering your own relationships, whether they be past, present or that imaginary perfect match.
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