Film Review: Ensemble c’est tout (2007)

“Je vais pouvoir améliorer mon Anglais”

Claude Berri’s Ensemble c’est tout (rather baffling translated to Hunting and Gathering pour les Anglos) is based on the popular French novel by Anna Cavalda which follows four people whose lives are connected by the apartment building they end up living in. Audrey Tautou’s Camille is a borderline anorexic, working as a cleaner to make ends meet rather than fulfilling her artistic potential and as she becomes friendly with anxiety-ridden neighbour Philibert (Laurent Stocker), he decides to move her in to nurse her back to physical and emotional health.

Something of a batty aristocrat, Philibert has a housemate, Guillaume Canet’s Franck, who is a womanising chef but cares very much for his ailing grandmother (who ends up in the flat as well) and sure as apples is apples, or pommes sont pommes, a platonic spark lights up between Philibert, Camille and Franck which is heart-warmingly nice, and a sexual spark ignites between the latter two which crackles nicely with some well-written and well-acted bickering between the pair, Canet and Tautou end up dominating the picture which is no bad thing given their charm.

The film as a whole is rather slight though, a rom-com by any other name with only really hints of what might have made it a more interesting enterprise. Françoise Bertin’s Paulette, the grandmother, has the most moving storyline as her fears of abandonment echo the way in which we all treat our senior citizens and resonate with an emotional truth that is absent elsewhere. That’s not to say Ensemble c’est tout isn’t enjoyable, just not particularly notable. As for the purposes of being included here, Firmine Richard is barely in it.

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