From Tinder to the Bulgarian countryside
By Leeor Adar
Australian audiences will adore the quirky treasure of a film, Our Happy Holiday (Premières vacances). Somehow, French romantic comedies hit the spot that their American and British contemporaries can never quite tickle. You have your eccentric characters, and their eccentric situations, without a moment contrived from the rule book.
Like so many modern romances, Marion (Camille Chamoux) begins with enlightening her tinder date Ben (Jonathan Cohen) to the gamut of her Tinder dating experience. Things rapidly escalate into an impromptu holiday to Bulgaria, comfortably between Biarritz and Beirut where the characters are respectively intending to go prior to their quick night of passion.
Our Happy Holiday is a first-time direction from writer Patrick Cassir, and in the first half of the film it shows. The emphasis on the dialogue, particularly the first conversations between our lovers has a tendency to feel forced, despite excellent acting from the leads. It’s unsurprising that Cassir becomes hooked on the dialogue, but like magic, the writing and direction take flight in the second part of the film when we are very much in the depths of a Bulgarian sextopia of a retreat.
Frustrated with Marion’s excessively carefree ways in a dirty local’s home for a first stop, I am eventually enlightened to her way of thinking after watching Ben stand by for a dull afternoon shared with a repugnant six-year-old. There are some fantastically poignant moments as our characters learn to engage with each other despite their vastly different approaches to taking a break. For anyone else, this plot could have been a silly mess, but Our Happy Holiday is a shining benchmark for what we should expect of our romantic comedies.
Some standouts include the gorgeous Camille Cottin’s monologue whilst holding an iron, a James Bond style escape from a moving train, and a very French way of insulting someone and expecting that person to still pay for your goods.
Despite a shaky start, I absolutely loved this film, and it will certainly make for a memorable romantic comedy.
Our Happy Holiday screens 5 March – 10 April at selected Palace Cinemas across Australia as part of the 30th Alliance Française French Film Festival. Tickets can be purchased online.