Fresh from a spot of miracle working in Ken Loach’s feelgood melodrama Looking for Eric, Eric Cantona returns in this damp squib of a British romantic comedy, the debut feature of Jackie Oudney. He plays Thierry Grimandi, a chain-smoking French auteur, who airily declares in a DVD extra that ‘film is my life and my life is film’, and that ‘love is everything’.
Grimandi is due to be interviewed on-stage at the National Film Theatre by broadsheet journalist Jed (Hugh Bonneville), whose instincts are to dismiss Grimandi’s seemingly pretentious theorising. But Jed’s own personal life is in turmoil: his girlfriend of ten years, Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton), has turned down his marriage proposal, and he’s realising the depth of his feelings towards the girlfriend, Sophie (Anne-Marie Duff), of his best mate Marcus (Douglas Henshall).
Scripted by Aschlin Ditta (Scenes of a Sexual Nature), French Film crudely contrasts Gallic attitudes to l’amour – see the excerpts from Grimandi’s mock films – with how ‘we’ Brits, or in this case middle-class late-thirtysomehing North Londoners, muddle through in matters of the heart (of course, the marriage counsellor whom Jed and Cheryl consult is French, and therefore automatically amusing). The filmmakers were apparently inspired by Woody Allen circa Manhattan, yet there’s no real wit or sparkle or cinematic imagination here, and the talented cast can do little with such workmanlike material.