“Les Infidèles” (the unfaithful ones), the latest film to star Golden Globe and BAFTA award-winner Jean Dujardin, has caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic, even before its release. Not because of the French film’s sex-crazed characters, but because the posters have been censored by the ARPP (France’s advertising regulator) for their capacity to ‘shock some members of the public’ – a scandal that fortunately didn't stop Dujardin from winning an Oscar for the silent movie “The Artist” on February 26th.
It’s true that the posters show Dujardin with a pair of women’s legs on either shoulder, and co-star Gilles Lellouche with a woman’s head at belt level, but some might argue that these tongue-in-cheek, fictional illustrations of infidelity are less questionable than the real-life messages of cuckoldry on certain posters in the Métro right now.
I’m thinking of Gleeden.com: this “extramarital dating site made by women” has posters all over the RATP network, which encourage real-life married people to be unfaithful. Their message is visible to everybody – including children – and it arguably has more potential to ‘shock’ members of the public than a film poster ever could. Yet Gleeden slipped through the net, while Les Infidèles’s poster was banned - a surprising situation that hopefully won’t reflect badly on the film (due out in France on February 29th) - for this is one innovative French movie that deserves to be a success.
Les Infidèle's quirkiness is in its structure - a succession of short films by seven directors (Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, who also play the leading roles, Emmanuelle Bercot, Fred Cavayé, Michel Hazanavicius, director of “The Artist”, Eric Lartigau and Alexandre Courtès), ingeniously woven together to cover various forms of male infidelity.
There are moments of barefaced and bare-bottomed sex; the main characters ask dodgy existential questions like ‘how come I want to be with my wife on Monday, then shag the whole of the Île-de-France on Wednesday?’ and in some scenes the characters are intolerably disrespectful towards their wives. But you laugh, and then you cry. You’re kept keen by endless story changes that whisk you behind the closed doors of a bourgeois home, a makeshift S&M parlour, an adultery self-help group and a hotel in Vegas. And above all you watch in awe at the brilliant acting: Jean du Jardin and Gilles Lellouche are like two peas in a pod – bouncing off each other to add both depth and light-heartedness to the stories. Les Infidèles is a wonderful, debauched romp and a film like no other in France right now.