Nothing, but nothing will stand between the French middle classes and their hols, though a bunch of friends do pause for thought when their mate’s left in a coma after a motorbike spill in Paris. Off then, to restauranteur François Cluzet’s luxurious compound at Arcachon, for sun, sea and an inkling they’re not as happy as they want to be. The ever-splendid Cluzet, uptight in writer-director Guillaume Canet’s previous hit thriller ‘Tell No One’, is here comedically stressed by his own control-freakery, just one element in an actor-friendly array of micro-crises. Marion Cotillard proves the star turn as a loose-living anthropologist wondering whether she might have redeemed the drug-addled crash victim, while macho dude Gilles Lelouche senses he’s not impervious to romance, and sensitive Benoit Magimel is confused by a man-crush on their straight host – a strand the actor takes more seriously than the film.
It’s slightly glib, very glossy and over-extended at 154 minutes. But there’s an overriding sense that Canet knows this territory, and gets the best out of an excellent cast. With its classic-rock soundtrack, comparisons to ‘The Big Chill’ are obvious, but what’s fascinatingly different from the Lawrence Kasdan favourite (or indeed John Sayles’s ‘Return of the Seacaucus Seven’) is the absence of ideological ferment contextualising the anxious shadows over the characters’ bourgeois entitlement. Instead, wise (real-life!) oyster-farmer Joël Dupuch provides jabs of conscience as Canet builds to an all-encompassing climactic emotional blow-out but, sadly, delivers over-reaching bathos.