Synopsis: Lambert, a reformed sex addict, tries to earn brownie points by becoming… a marriage guidance counsellor. He’s successfully abstained from sex for some months, but his situation becomes complicated when he hires an assistant, the seductive Judith, whose unbridled sexuality quickly sorely tests his resolutions.
eyelights: its two leads. the sexual tension between them. the setting.
eyesores: its predictable structure.
‘Tu veux ou tu veux pas’ is a French 2014 sex comedy starring Sophie Marceau and Patrick Bruel. It centres on Judith, an alluring nymphomaniac, finding employment as an assistant at Lambert’s couples’ therapy clinic. As in all her previous short-lived jobs, she’s in full seduction mode. But there’s a catch: Lambert is a recovering sex addict, and he desperately clings to his nearly year-long abstinence.
Cue the fireworks.
Honestly, I had very few expectations when I sat down to watch this movie. I half-expected a romantic comedy filled with cheap laughs and contrivances galore. But ‘Tu veux ou tu veux pas’ is surprisingly effective: Marceau and Bruel are absolutely terrific together, the dialogues are credible, as are the situations, and the laughs (mostly) don’t feel forced – they’re all derived from their context.
On the one hand, laughs come from the characters’ sexual identities: Wherever Judith goes, she’s in a candy store – to her eyes, all men are naked, and it’s just a matter of cherry-picking. Nothing stops her: age, race, physique. She’s on the make 24/7. Meanwhile, Lambert is horny so he consistently consults with his sponsor for advice and courage. He’s also in denial of his aging mother’s blooming sexuality.
So, naturally, Judith and Lambert make for an interesting combination; the tension between them is delicious.
But it’s also when they work together that it’s interesting to watch: Not only are the couples that they help amusing (ex: One couple is seeking their third divorce, another is remaining “pure” by having anything but traditional intercourse), but their approaches are completely different: Lambert focuses on communication and couple dynamics, whereas Judith is constantly zoning in on their sex lives.
Although Lambert clearly tells her to tone it down, Judith is constantly hitting on him. Their dialogues are super-charged with innuendo and she often makes outright advances – and when she can’t have him, she finds other men, rendering him jealous. So he slowly tries to introduce her to his friends and family, to buy himself time, so that they can get to know each other romantically first, and sexually later.
Personally, I like that the tables are turned and that the woman is the huntress here. I mean, it’s not just a nice fantasy (!), but it changes things up from men being on the make. I love seeing a sexually-confident woman who simply basks in her sexuality. But I also like that the man isn’t a prude, that he’s struggling with himself to do the right thing in the face of near-insurmountable desire and temptation.
I also love that the picture (and its characters) make no apologies for their sexual identities. Some people would consider nymphomania/sex addiction a problem, but it only is if it’s a concern for the parties involved. If their high libido doesn’t get in the way of their relationships, their careers, …etc., heck, their own happiness, then I don’t really see an issue. And Judith is totally unrepentant.
‘Tu veux ou tu veux pas’ isn’t an explicit film (in fact, there’s literally no nudity aside for a bunch of men’s backsides and Marceau in her underwear) but it’s sexy thanks to Marceau’s well-honed seductivity; she’s full-on most of the time. And, although the “art of seduction” can feel artificial, maybe even be a caricature, here it works: What man wouldn’t want to meet a tigress like Judith?
Well, I suppose some would find her intimidating.
I had a lot of fun with ‘Tu veux ou tu veux pas’. The only stumble for me was towards the end, with the requisite dramatic turn of the third act; it was mildly contrived, and it changed the tone slightly. But, truth be told, even that was handled relatively well (at least, in contrast with other romantic comedies). So it didn’t really take too much away from my enjoyment; I suspect that I’ll see it again.
It’s simple fun – no harm done.
Date of viewing: June 28, 2016