DAY 12: THE MANAGEMENT OF GRIEF
Did you hear of the farmer who wanted a wife, put an ad in the paper specifically saying she must have a tractor, and requested interested women to send a photo of the tractor?
In Je vous trouve tres Beau, the second and final French film screened at the European Film Festival, Ayme, a farmer and a new widower upon advice from his lawyer decides to find a wife, his reasons are more practical than romantic: “I can deal with the grief, but the work!” Ayme complains. He contacts a dating agent who suggests he tries Romania where he meets several young women who have been trained to say the phrase, “You’re so handsome” (in French, the “Je vous trouve tres beau” of the title) to his irritation. He is not pleased— the women seem to have more plans and talent for disco dancing than for farm work— but neither are the girls; as one says “He wants you in field more than in bed—bad news!” His luck turns when, he meets the beautiful Elena, who in a quest to leave Romania, is equally as practical and has no qualms feigning love for all things pastoral and stops short of praising his handsomeness. In short, it is a match made in agrarian heaven. Or is it?
The Romanian date scene is hilarious and in the vast difference between what the man needs and what is yakking obliviously in front of him, the scene is almost as ridiculously funny as Hakeem’s interview for a bride in a New York club in Coming to America.
The laughs are very consistent except for when the script halts to give some drama and some romance. The French are very very good at the latter, but not so much the former on this evidence. The comedy owes as much to funny one liners— on arriving France, Elena has to play dumb as she is not supposed to speak French, a relative tells Ayme, “The perfect girl- young, pretty and doesn’t talk”— as much as it does to the acting of Michel Blanc, whose portrayal of the grumpy old man provokes both hilarity and sympathy at his inability to handle Elena, driven to the point of exasperation, he says, “I try to make you laugh, you cry”. It is on his shoulders, Je vous trouve tres beau is carried.
There might be a problem regarding the chemistry between the young, beautiful Elena and the old, balding Ayme— it is almost impossible to see how such a woman will fall for Ayme to the point of desperately luring him to bed; but that is explained when a character says, “…that’s why guys go there, the girls will marry anyone to escape…”Ahem. Not a very nice sentiment about fellow EU members, no? Anyway, Nigerians won’t complain too much as we are used to the strange case of pretty women marrying Amaechi Muonagor— whom Stella Dimoko of Encomium once described as, “Nigeria’s unsexiest actor” —in Nollywood.
Also, the act that finally wins Elena is farfetched and her back-story is sketchy at best. But it is a comedy, if the jokes are funny, we will laugh and forgive. Je vous trouve tres beau, certainly makes forgiveness tres easy.