List Film

Les Bronzes (4 stars)

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Les Bronzes

This surprisingly engaging little 1978 comedy by Patrice Leconte (My Best Friend, The Hairdresser’s Husband) was a huge hit in France when it was released. Managing to be both cynical and warm as it takes a jaundiced look at the holidaying French middle-classes on the Ivory Coast, this is basically a club-med scenario with everybody looking for ‘sea, sex and sun’, as the Serge Gainsborough song bluntly announces over the film’s credits.

When one character asks the resort stud (Thierry Lhermitte) what the ratio of women to men is, Lhermitte replies that ‘it depends on the man’. For a character like Michel’s Blanc’s wonderfully weedy wannabe womanizer, the ratio is not good, while Lhermitte has bedded 80 women this season already. In some ways the film resembles the more recent work of novelist Michel Houellebecq (Whatever, Atomised), but this is a lighter, more charming and less misogynistic take on the problems of sexual activity and capitalist consumption, not least because the women here are more than the bit players they are in Houellebecq. There’s great support from Christian Clavier, Josiane Bolasko and Gérard Jugnot. Minimal extras.

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