With a deliciously against-type performance from Diane Kruger, Pascal Chaumeil’s A Perfect Plan sees a frantic woman cross the globe in search of Mr Wrong.
Heartbreak Hotel by Mark Wilshin
A companion piece to his breakthrough hit romantic comedy Heartbreaker, Pascal Chaumeil’s Un Plan Parfait sees the tables overturned as it becomes the turn of the woman to try to seduce a man over the course of a few days for nefarious motives. Instead of Romain Duris’ out-of-luck and all-over-the-place heartbreaker, Diane Kruger is the desperate belle attempting to outrun a family curse by marrying and divorcing so she can marry the love of her life. And rather than the beautifully stiff Vanessa Paradis seduced on the eve of her wedding, it’s the rubbery Danny Boon coaxed into a Masai marriage. And as A Perfect Plan jets through Paris, Kenya and Moscow, it’s a fine romance in search of a little adventure.
Attempting to cheer up her tearful divorcee boss over Christmas dinner, Corinne (Alice Pol) tells her the story of the curse that haunts the women in her family – doomed to marry and divorce before settling down with the loves of their lives. Only with one exception – her sister (Diane Kruger) Isabelle, who attempts to outrun her destiny. In a relationship with Pierre (Robert Plagnol) for over ten years, Isabelle has the perfect life in Paris. Only he won’t have a child out of wedlock, and she won’t marry him for fear of the family curse. Cue a trip to Copenhagen to get married and divorced in the same day. En route she meets the travel writer Jean-Yves (Dany Boon) and when she’s stood up by rent-a-husband Lars, it’s time to seduce this schmuck and get married.
Like Alexandre Castagnetti’s recent Love Is In The Air and of course Pacal Chaumeil’s own Heartbreaker, French romantic comedies are all about walking on the wild side. All too easily, it seems, women are trapped in stable relationships with charming, attractive and reliable men, who fall down irredeemably in the spontaneity stakes. And while Chaumeil doesn’t quite succeed in pitching Isabelle’s fiancé as a dreary bore (albeit with a regimented weekly calendar of bowling on Mondays, tennis on Thursdays and sex on Fridays), but neither is Dany Boon the typical romantic lead; fastidious in his dictation and aggressive in his determination for a window seat. Instead, he’s the stooge – the lovable shmuck with the puppy dog eyes at Isabelle’s mercy. Diane Kruger, on the other hand, treads a fine line between manipulative ice queen and desperate drama queen, who for no apparent reason falls for the fall guy.
But while Diane Kruger embraces her character’s fate with irrepressible gusto, Pascal Chaumeil’s film moves through a rotation of comedic circles – from the satire of a painful Christmas dinner and a romantic comedy of errors as one family curse is pitched against another to an odd-couple farce and a fish-out-of-water comedy in some of the world’s most far-flung places. And while Kenya’s star-lit savannah and a snowy Moscow by night create a romance all of their own, this breakneck tour across the globe is more than a wink to the local customry of goat-offal soup and cockroach-infested hotels. Rather, it’s the kind of adventure romance is made of – a patchwork of exotic sensations that provide the rhythm to Isabelle and Jean Yves’ second wedding – as Russian cabaret meets Masai dancing.
It’s perhaps no coincidence, that like Heartbreaker’s final-reel riff on Dirty Dancing, A Perfect Plan also ends in a dance – the diegetic music fading away in favour of romantic strings – as true love finds its feet amidst melodic rhythms. But unlike the devil-may-care joie de vivre of Heartbreaker, Un Plan Parfait, while featuring an enjoyably plastic performance from Dany Boon and an extraordinary playfulness from Diane Kruger, stumbles over its self-conscious script. The framing device of the Christmas tale brings another dimension to the love narrative, as Pierre is redeemed from grey blandness (even if it’s only to fall into the arms of an exasperating divorcee), but it’s clumsily self-referential, teasing out the well-timed pleasures of storytelling. Neither as slick nor as routine as Heartbreaker, A Perfect Plan goes off the beaten path as it tracks down its imperfect, but charming adventure.
A Perfect Plan is released on 13th June 2013 in the UK