Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Au Petit Bonheur (1946)

Cannes Classics brought a restored print of Au Petit Bonheur back to the big screen last week. This absolutely hysterical French comedy from 1946 features Danielle Darrieux as Martine, the crazy and jealous wife in a marriage of convenience who sets out to make her husband fall in love with her, collateral damage be damned.

Said collateral damage consists of playwright Alain Plessis, whose car she first shoots and then repeatedly comandeers. Plessis is on his way to a remote inn, a wonderfully creepy place that serves to isolate the main cast, which is where he fell in love with an actress who later left him. He plans to relive their first happy moments, then kill himself; his plan is postponed when he comes across the innkeeper, Brigitte, who is rehearsing her own suicide. Together, they happen upon Martine's husband, Denis, who had broken in to get away from her. When Martine discovers him and he leaves her, she too decides to take her own life. Yes, kids, this is a comedy.

The rest of the film involves Martine and Denis scheming with other people to get each other back. Martine, who started out as mentally unstable, gains the upper hand by overhearing a conversation between Denis and Plessis. However, she is thwarted by an accidental dose of sleeping pills. All three characters are literally on the precipice before Plessins realizes he doesn't want to die, and Martine and Denis realize that neither of them wants a divorce. Along the way, there are more than enough misunderstandings and plays on words to keep this comedy from becoming too dark, and everything is tied up neatly in the end -- literally, with the rope that Brigitte would have used to hang herself.

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