Synopsis: Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche lead a starry cast in a comedy exploring the triumphs and failures of male infidelity in all its desperate, absurd and wildly funny forms. From a sales conference hotel in the suburbs to a smart sex addiction clinic, from a swish Parisian nightclub to the glitzy meat market of Las Vegas, the protagonists launch themselves into the age old pursuit. Every timeworn excuse is proffered; every trick in the book is played.
Witty and moving, honest and cynical, hope beats eternal in the lusting male heart, but the road to illicit pleasure is never an easy one…
Les Infidèles 7.5
eyelights: the strength of the cast. the variety of segments. the quality of each segment.
eyesores: the clichéd situations. the stereotypes.
‘Les Infidèles’ is a French dramedy anthology about male infidelity starring Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche. Featuring various stories and perspectives, it is comprised of a half dozen full segments and a handful of short interludes – some hilarious, some serious.
The picture was helmed by seven different directors, including Dujardin and Lellouche (who also co-wrote some of the segments), with each taking turns and providing their own perspective on the subject. Despite this, ‘Les Infidèles’ works almost seamlessly.
Were the seams show is when the interludes (or sketches, really), pop up: given that they are usually no more than a minute in length and very much focused on comedy, they tend to be a bit more outrageous than the others, and aren’t nearly as realistic.
But, all in all, it was a quality set of shorts.
Prologue: Two men are cheating on their wives, staying out all night every night, despite their partners’ protests. Together, as they’re cruising and picking up girls, they discuss why they can’t help themselves. It was amusing in some respects because it showed two sides to the characters: a more reflective side and a callous, primal one, that they couldn’t reconcile. They’re still @$$holes, though. 8.0
Bernard: This one’s a brief bit about a guy who finds himself at the hospital due to a sexual concern – only to be embarrassed when his wife is called in by the doctor. It’s ridiculous, but funny anyway. 8.0
La Bonne Conscience: Laurent (Dujardin) works for a company called Biomap. During a company seminar, he decides that he wants to play the field a little bit, all the while telling his wife that he’s working. But he’s not well liked by the rest of the team, and he becomes desperate to hook up. It spirals downward and he humiliates himself. It’s pathetic, really, but we all know this happens in real life. And there are some funny bits. 7.0
Lolita: Éric is a successful dentist who is having an affair with a wild high schooler. One day, as they’re supposed to have some alone time, she spontaneously pounces her friends on him and won’t stop hanging out and partying with them. He’s obviously lonely and hoping for more exclusivity from her, but it doesn’t work out that way. This one’s dramatic, not funny, and it doesn’t end on a high note. I especially hated the way he decided to lie to his spouse about it – and how she could see through him. 7.25
Thibault: Just as his lover is taking leave, Thibault, family suddenly returns – early. He has to try to hide any traces of his guilt before they make it up the stairs. This brief one is far too slapstickty for my taste. 5.5
La Question: After a dinner party (where the host’s infidelity is discussed for the nth time behind his spouse’s back), a couple decide to have a heart-to-heart, divulging their own infidelities, staying up all night talking. By morning, they return to their regular parental duties. But something’s changed. I loved how sober this was, but I hated how predictable it was. Are people this predictable? Maybe they are. Ugh. I wish they were predictably honest. 7.5
Simon: Another outrageous brief, about a guy who gets caught in a compromising position with a senior in bondage. Funny because of the shock value, but repetitious. 7.0
Les Infidèles Anonymes: This one takes place at an Adulterers Anonymous meeting, where many of the men introduce themselves, have group discussions and the therapist, the only woman in the room, challenges them on their perceptions. Hilarious stuff, if only because of the dialogues and reveals. 8.0
Las Vegas: The two guys from the Prologue decide to skip town and go to Las Vegas together despite their spouses’ protests, and plan to party like crazy – in fact, they hire call girls the moment that they get to their hotels. But it doesn’t quite go the way anyone might expect – not one bit. It’s an amusing segment, but the punch line is what makes really it work. 7.5
What I found most surprising, given the day and age, was just how heterocentric the film is. Now, I understand that, as vehicles for Dujardin and Lellouche, they have to be entirely focused on male protagonists (trust me, I don’t want to see either of them play women), but there are a few more permutations than just male and female.
And not only that, but the picture completely centered on men naturally being unfaithful and the women being subject to their behaviour. Of course. None of the vignettes ever transposed these roles to have the men be the victims of their partners’ infidelity.
In that respect, the film is retrograde because it largely assumes that men sleep around and that women don’t. And yet, the fact remains that these men’s sex partners can’t all be single. Statistically, this is proven true: a nearly-similar percentage of women are unfaithful.
So I can’t help but question what the purpose of the film was. To poke fun at these stereotypes? To serve up cautionary tales? In either case, it is far too unrepentant, if not celebratory, to make those points. Maybe it just wanted to make light of this grotesquery.
I’m not sure.
But ‘Les Infidèles’ is a decent film as far as these things goes. The cast is both willing and able, the writing, while not stellar, is solid and the direction is flawless and almost seamless. What could have been of utter bad taste turned into a relatively entertaining piece
And this coming from someone who can’t stomach dishonesty.
Date of viewing: Mat 27, 2014