Journalist Jed Winter is preparing to interview the celebrated French auteur film-maker Thierry Grimandi, a self-appointed expert on the nature of love. Jed is quick to dismiss Grimandi's theories of love and romance as pretentious nonsense, irrelevant to real people in real life relationships.

But when his long-term girlfriend, Cheryl refuses to marry him and instead forces him into couple counselling, Jed begins to realise that his own emotions aren't as straightforward as he once believed. Even his best friend Marcus wants to talk less about football and more about love as the truth about his relationship with perfect girlfriend Sophie gradually emerges...

As one by one his loved ones reveal their dedication to l'amour, Jed starts to think that Grimandi might have the answers after all.

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A bland, unfunny Gallic/English stew.

The debut feature from clapper loader-turned director Jackie Oudney, French Film is a trifling romantic comedy which lacks two vital ingredients: passion and wit.

The screenplay by Aschlin Ditta is obviously intended as a parody on French art-house cinema, the famed Gallic reputation for l’amour, British hang-ups and insecurities, and relationships counseling—and it misses each target by a country mile. Any resemblance to the works of Richard Curtis and Woody Allen is probably intentional, but laughably scant.

It’s a shame to see some of Britain’s most accomplished actors squander their talents on this B-grade concoction, while Eric Cantona struggles with the caricatured role of Thierry Grimandi, a pretentious French auteur.

Freelance feature writer Jed (Hugh Bonneville) proposes to Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton), his magazine editor girlfriend of 10 years. She turns him down, perversely because she thinks that’s the answer he wanted, and insists they see a counselor, who happens to be French. Jed is so jaded and bitter, and Cheryl is such an icy bitch, one wonders how they’ve stayed together so long.

Jed's best mate Marcus (Douglas Henshall) seems blissfully happy with his perky girlfriend Sophie (Anne-Marie Duff), but Marcus soon confides that he’s still carrying a torch for his schooldays sweetheart.

In between unsatisfactory sessions with the obtuse counselor, Jed prepares for an interview with Grimandi by watching a DVD of the director’s films and him pontificating about love and romance.

All this is meant to be light and fluffy, but instead of joie de vivre we get leaden one-liners such as 'That wasn’t love, it was erectile tissue," and 'Do you know what I like best about France? Leaving it."

As the relationships twist and turn, coinciding with Jed’s meeting with Grimandi, there are moments of pathos, but by then I was beyond caring about the vapid characters and their unromantic entanglements. Rarely was I so happy to see the Fin card. Ample extras include cast interviews and B-roll footage which, come to think of it, could refer to the entire movie.

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M
1 hour 28 min
Wed, 09/23/2009 - 11

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