Ever realise how it’s so unfair that there are no guy-centric days, unless you are one of two guys who *celebrate* Valentine’s Day, LOSER? Err… The other one’s me, yes. And I totally believe that Valentine’s Day can be guy-centric too, if you meet the following criteria:
a) You celebrate it with as much enthusiasm that you celebrate all the other days you have been in a relationship… basically, by not getting dumped (That’s very manly, trust me).
b) You slyly get your girlfriend to watch movies which *seem* like your conventional rom-coms but have enough intelligence in them for you to NOT feel like Hugh Grant’s illegitimate offspring.
One such smart and layered rom-com (yes, there is such a thing) is Michel Leclerc’s 2010 French film, Le Nom Des Gens (The Names of Love). It sounds mushy, it has a mushy poster and it’s set in mushy, mushy Paris. But for a film posing as a rom-com, the movie has a strong political undercurrent, and a message of peace and tolerance (in the world).
The film’s about Baya Benmahoud (a stunning and sexy Sara Forestier), a left-wing activist, who literally lives her life by the adage, ‘Make love, not war’ – she sleeps with her political opponents to try and convert them to her cause – until she meets an awkward middle-aged man, Arthur Martin (a prim and proper Jacques Gamblin), who she’s bafflingly attracted to, since he’s not the Fascist she thought he was.
The film is a terrific watch because of its detail – the two leads are real people, with radically different heritages, who have both been trying to find their own identity in the time of racial prejudice, changing political climate and a dark past that includes surviving the Holocaust (some of the best-written bits of the film). And that’s a lot to achieve for a film that’s no-holds barred fun.
Watch the semi-autobiographical film, co-written with lot of heart by Leclerc and his wife Baya Kasmi, because it never takes itself seriously, and yet manages to deal the most sensitive of topics with a remarkable maturity. Plus, there’s much nudity, so that’s always worth mentioning!
Starring: Sara Forestier, Jacques Gamblin, Zinedine Soualem
Written By: Michel Leclerc, Baya Kasmi
Directed By: Michel Leclerc
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, February 2012 issue
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