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  • 12A
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2008
  • 98 mins

Let's Talk About The Rain

Let's Talk About The Rain

Synopsis

An aspiring feminist politician must confront some home truths in this French ensemble comedy

About

"Two weeks of rain! Not five minutes of sunshine!"

In Britain, a nation where people need little prompting to talk about the bad weather, this would sound like little more than standard grumbling, but in France, apparently a bit of precipitation in the summer is cause for genuine indignation and not a little soul-searching.

Here it is Florence (Arbillot) who is wishing for sunnier times, both literally and metaphorically. Despite being settled down with a loving husband (De Tonquedec) and children, she is contemplating moving on to start again with a lover, and at the same time she is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her sister Agathe (Jaoui) who rarely graces the ancestral home with a visit.

Agathe Villanova is a Parisian feminist intellectual embarking on a career in politics, and with her boyfriend Antoine (Pierrot) in reluctant tow, she has come less to sort out her recently deceased mother's affairs than to deliver an important public speech. Meanwhile aimless hotel worker Karim (Debbouze) is exploiting his special access to the Villanovas - his mother Mimouna (Hadji) is the family maid - to shoot a candid documentary piece on Agathe, helped by the supposedly more experienced filmmaker (and disgruntled divorcee) Michel (Bacri), who has his own intimate connection to the Villanova family.

Like both Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours and Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, Agnès Jaoui's Let's Talk About The Rain is what the French call a 'choral' (or ensemble) film, and its affiliation to this genre is marked from the outset by the singing of an unseen choir on the audio track. While all three films show an extended family getting together in a bourgeois setting and facing all manner of home truths, in Jaoui's film the focus is very much on laughs, unsurprisingly, given that her previous two directorial features (The Taste Of Others, Look At Me) were comedies too.

Make no mistake about it: Let's Talk About The Rain is funny. If Agathe is at the very peak of her success as a professional woman, the combination of Karim's aggressive resentment towards her and Michel's general incompetence creates the perfect storm to bring her down a peg. Their interviewing 'technique' is hilarious to behold, and the scene in which Agathe is brought into direct contact with her rural electorate (backwoods farmers who blame politicians for, amongst other things, the weather) is an absolute howler.

Of course, you might need a sense of humour to cope with the more serious concerns skirted by Jaoui's film: aging, loneliness, women's shifting societal roles, the fear of becoming unwanted, family break-up and the abiding tensions within France's North African community. This is heady stuff indeed, but its packaging is so light and sweet, and its endings to every character subplot so neatly tied up, that you barely notice the bitterness concealed within. Smartly scripted and perfectly performed, Let's Talk About The Rain is a joy from start to finish - even if it is also forgotten almost the instant the final credits begin to roll.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Guillaume De Tonquedec, Frédéric Pierrot, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Laurent Jarroir, Jamel Debbouze, Anne Werner, Agnès Jaoui, Pascale Arbillot, Florence Loiret-Caille, Mimouna Hadji
  • Director: Agnès Jaoui
  • Writer: Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri
  • Producer: Jean-Philippe Andraca, Christian Berard
  • Photographer: David Quesemond

In a nutshell

You can blame the government, the bourgeoisie, women or the weather, but in the end Jaoui's ensemble comedy, for all its sophisticated wit and note-perfect performances, is washed out by an overwhelming slightness. See it, like it, then instantly forget it.

by Anton Bitel

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