Cockles And Muscles (15)
Time Out says
Tue Apr 11 2006‘Teenagers are so conventional,’ Béatrix (Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi) sighs to Marc (Gilbert Melki) after their mortified son throws yet another strop during their summer sojourn on the Riviera. Shaggy barnet and conspicuously intimate chum notwithstanding, young Charly (Romain Torres) is indeed the spirit of conservatism here – but given the sexual and identity crises buffeting his family at every turn, that hardly qualifies him as a reactionary. With maman taking a langorously laissez-faire attitude towards sex, drugs and all life’s wondrous vagaries, the poor lad’s got precious little to rebel against.
Setting its adolescent and mid-life ructions in and around Marc’s childhood summer house, ‘Cockles and Muscles’ fits into the carnivalesque tradition of rural getaways as the site of farcical inversion and deceit: Béatrix’s bit on the side Mathieu (Jacques Bonnaffé) soon pops up while Marc – who doesn’t wholly share his wife’s permissive bent – finds himself fixating on Charly’s relationship with Martin (Edouard Collin), and then wrong-footed by a blast from his own past.
Plenty of wool pulled over eyes and sticks grabbed by the wrong end, then; but as they’re all tolerant, reasonable types (the odd wobbly aside) there’s little sense of danger, nor much of the existential angst that characterised Duscatel and Martineau’s earlier, equally engaging films ‘Drôle de Félix’ and ‘Ma Vraie Vie à Rouen’. Instead everything breezes along in an amiable, leisurely and awfully continental way; indeed, from its liberated sensibility and fetishisation of bivalves to the breathy chanson over the animated titles and climactic colour-coordinated song-and-dance number, this is quite the Frenchest thing you’re likely to see all year.
Author: Ben Walters