a film by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau
2005 | 93 mins | France
›› Cockles & Muscles - Crustacés & Coquillages - aka Cote d'Azur
a lively French farce of the sexual repression kind
Cockles & Muscles by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau Brilliantly combining the traditional elements of the French farce and the holiday drama, directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau of Drôle de Félix and Ma Vie fame have yet again come up trumps with this lively romantic comedy set on the French Riviera.

For as the summer sun arrives, Béatrix and Marc head off to the South of France for a welcome break in the recently inherited and equally dilapidated family holiday home, only for their daughter Laura to leave almost as soon as their arrival, having teamed up with her biker boyfriend for a swift exit to Portugal. This leaves their son Charly with time enough to spend with his best friend Martin, whose close friendship prompts Béatrix to question if such could be, well .... just a little too close!

Not that the thought that her son could be gay troubles her. If anything she's totally at ease with the idea, having grown up with a liberal mind to both sexuality and sex itself. Then again, this should be of no surprise given she has a lover on the side and one who turns up much to her delight and equal frustration. On the other hand her husband Marc, for reasons best known to himself, is having a hard time accepting the possibility of pink blood in the family. Even more so when he chances upon an old flame and one that makes it clear that not everything, or indeed everyone, is what they may at first appear to be.

Cockles & Muscles by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau For some this film could be seen as lightweight, that of a superficial story in which the sexual antics of the characters are played out for comic effect. But then, this is a French farce, one held together by the sheer exuberance of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as Béatrix and Gilbert Melki as Marc. Yet such controlled / uncontrolled performances are matched by the smouldering delivery of Jean-Marc Barr who as local plumber Didier, is a man happy to get his hands dirty and in more ways than one!

Yet in as much as Romain Torres as Charly and Edouard Collin as Martin are splendid in their roles, the truth to their friendship and that of their sexuality, is but a backdrop to the relationship between Béatrix and Marc and that of their own sexual issues. It is one in which the subjects of love, regret, let alone sexual repression, whilst central to the film are examined not in a serious tone, but rather in a comic observational fashion of the type that prompts a happy union for all just around the cinematic corner. Oh and it comes with music as well; dodgy song-and-dance numbers penned by the filmmakers that like the film itself, will have you laughing all the way to the end. In short, this is ninety minutes of pure French farce, being in effect, a prime example of the genre done well. Need more be said?
screened as part of the 19th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2005
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue
starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Marc Barr, Jacques Bonnaffé, Edouard Collin,
Romain Torres, Sabrina Seyvecou, Yannick Baudin, Julien Weber, Sébastien Cormier
Copyright 2006 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #114
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