Men, Women: User's Manual

After the international acclaim for his revisionist update of Les Misérables comes this offering from Lelouch, far more typical of the maverick film-maker's run of convoluted all-star melodramas that regularly boost the French box office and which, equally regularly, receive frosty treatment from the Paris critical elite. His major coup here, however, is casting business magnate Tapie, who served a prison sentence for tax evasion. He seems more or less to be playing himself, a charismatic rogue who receives his comeuppance from doctor Martines, a vengeful old flame who switches his unblemished medical reports with the gloomy verdict on twitchy undercover cop Luchini. The sick one soon comes over all glad-to-be-alive, and his perfectly healthy counterpart's on his way to Lourdes for a 'miracle' cure. Ever intent on gilding the lily, Lelouch weaves in some rather tiresome teenage romantic asides, and detains us further with the rags-to-riches story of a falsetto street singer. The main diversion is Lelouch's characteristically virtuoso camerawork, with sweeping helicopter shots and a luscious, blue-tinged Paris captivating the attention while you try to work out how elegant, sixty-something con-artist Anouk Aimée fits into the mazy grand design. Tapie is a surprisingly personable screen presence, but the film itself is decorative, mercurial and really rather mystifying.

Release details

Duration: 123 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Claude Lelouch
Screenwriter: Claude Lelouch, René Bonnell, Jean-Philippe Chatrier
Cast: Fabrice Luchini
Bernard Tapie
Alessandra Martines
Pierre Arditi
Ticky Holgado
Daniel Gélin
Anouk Aimée
Claude Lelouch
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