Le Grand appartement
Pascal Thomas :: France :: 2006 :: 1h43
Francesca and Martin live in a huge apartment in the middle of Paris, surrounded by an extended family extended with friends. The apartment had its rent fixed long, long ago, allowing them to bungle on through life in a bohemian bliss. The owners of the apartment want to sell, putting pressure on the group which do not see reality as something which concerns them directly.
Boulevard theatre brought to the big screen, with all the usual elements, including the promiscuous husband, songs sung and a lot of caring, meaningful looks to bring about a happy and loving atmosphere. In itself not for everybody, but on top of that there is a real moral to this movie, which is spelt out at the end in case you were too concentrated on something else during the screening. The director Mr Thomas mourns the transformation of Paris into a rat-race which does not allow the tranquility of community life, a life which allows artistic expression.
This main theme is discussed from different angles throughout the movie, but with a persistent nostalgic tone of something which can not be much other than an imperfect recollection of youth. Paris is not as it was, but it never really was as it was either. Of course the idea of living for free is appealing, but the general drawback of its impossibility is sidelined. The movie is plagued by arguments which show bad economics – someone somewhere will have to work for all this!
If we leave the pervasive moral aside, not taking it all too seriously, and turn to the humor, then we find the occasional funny line. More importantly, there are some creative theatrical elements which are a pleasure to watch in cinema (although it’s not for everybody). This is far from sufficient to fill the allocated time. So we get to see some dancing and singing, and such to fill up their romantic existence. There is a certain charm to the bohemian life-style shown, but remember Bertolucci’s Les Innocents, who also does not really succeed, but makes a better case than this movie, partly bu concentrating on youth exclusively. Although as a viewer you wonder constantly what they are going to do next, which is one of the great charms of bohemian cinema, you mostly hope they will just stop. If you go in to watch it, go for Laetitia Casta, who handles her role well, or go and watch something else.