Two is a Family (Demain Tout Commence) - Spoiler Free Movie Review
Omar Sy returns to the French film industry in this comedic drama, which is a European remake of a successful Mexican movie.
Original Title: Demain Tout Commence
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Director: Hugo Gélin
Cast: Omar Sy, Gloria Colston, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand, Ashley Walters, Anna Cottis & Clémentine Célarié.
Run Time: 118 min.
French Release: 07 December 2016
US Release: N/A
UK Release: N/A
German Release: 05 January 2017
One week into the new year and my first review of 2017 is that of a French dramedy. Demain Tout Commence, known as Two is a Family in English-speaking regions, is the newest film of Hugo Gélin and stars The Intouchables co-lead Omar Sy. It is a remake of the 2013 Mexican dramedy Instructions not Included, the fourth most successful non-English movie, but instead of Mexico and Los Angeles, the plot takes place in France and London, focusing on a European audience. Gélin managed to create a beautiful and emotional picture that stays true to the source and surprises with an unexpected twist in the end.
Omar Sy became internationally well known after his success with The Intouchables, a fantastically filmed, acted and scripted French movie of 2011. Sy quickly became one of my favourite European actors, after giving further fantastic performances in On the Other Side of the Tracks, Jurassic World and X-Men: Days of Future Past, so when I heard that he is returning to his roots; I was naturally looking forward to seeing this movie.
Samuel (Sy) is the captain of a tourist yacht in Marseilles and a playboy. His life and thoughts revolve only around women and parties until one day he is awoken by one of his one-night-stands who claims that the child she is holding in her hands is his. Asking to borrow a couple of Euros to pay for the cab, the woman who re-introduces herself as Kristin (Poésy) drives off in the Taxi leaving Sam alone with the baby. Samuel follows her back to London, but loses the only lead he has and on top of that, he is robbed of his passport and money. He meets Bernie (Bertrand) a gay TV show producer, who gives him a job as a stuntman and helps Sam to raise Gloria (Colston). Eight years later Kristin reappears.
If you saw Instructions not Included, you will notice that this comedic drama is a beat-for-beat remake and therefore it doesn’t offer anything new plot-wise. Having said that, director Gélin and writer Mathieu Oullion managed to transfer the happenings of the Mexican hit very well into a European setting and did add their own flair to the story. Even though there is a hint of drama along the first two-thirds, Gélin tries to fade out that aspect of the story using funny dialogues and joyful scenes; a stylistic metaphor for the safety bubble that Samuel built around the life of her daughter and although it was an interesting narrative choice, it felt a little over-the-top at times. The change in tone comes with the return of Gloria’s mother when the bubble starts to burst.
The dialogues were mostly good, especially those between Gloria and Samuel but just as with the narrative, there were aspects of the dialogue that felt rather improbable and far-fetched. That is not to say that I did not like it because I laughed a lot during the conversations between Samuel and Bernie.
Since Demain Tout Commence also contains a fair amount of comedic aspects, most of the characters were written to be rather cartoonish and exaggerated. That would not have been a problem if the film would have been solely a comedy but since it also contains true dramatic aspects, those characters lost credibility and did not fit into that world.
Omar Sy’s character Samuel was not only very well designed but also depicted by the French star beautifully. Sy managed to jump between funny and dramatic moments elegantly, giving his character much-needed depth. Samuel himself is a figure that can’t take on responsibility and needs to learn how to take care of an infant when somebody literally leaves him hanging with one. His new goal is to turn his daughter's life into a paradise and shield her from some ugly truths. The young Gloria Colston plays Sam’s daughter Gloria and she was the real sensation of this film. Colston gave an impressive performance and granted her character an incredible likeability.
Antoine Bertrand’s rendition of Bernie, the gay TV producer and Sam’s best friend, was a little over-the-top. He is the funny character that everybody is supposed to laugh at when entering a scene, yet it was at times a little too much. His performance was cartoonish and far-fetched. Clémence Poésy plays Kristin, Gloria’s mother who left her with Samuel eight years ago. Poésy represented the other tonal spectrum of the film. She was the emotionally tortured mother that felt horrible for having abandoned her child. She did a good job and managed to display her desperate situation through her eyes.
I still am not quite sure how I felt about the cinematography by Guillaume Massart. He managed to contrast the serious segments well from the bubble paradise that Sam created to protect his daughter, by using oversaturated and desaturated colours to display the two emotional spectrums. He also de-focused his camera every time Samuel reached an emotional stress point, signalising that he might be ill. I liked and respected these cinematographic trickeries, but they did collide with flaws I noticed throughout the movie, such as the choice of angles that distracted from the story.
Verdict: The French film industry usually manages to bestow the world with a few dimes, such as Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis and The Intouchables. They are especially efficient when it comes to dramedies, but this one somehow managed to leave me not quite satisfied. The script was a total copy from the Mexican original Instructions not Included and so offered nothing new, yet it did still pack an emotional punch (predominantly in the third act) that managed to tear me up. I was not quite sold on how the comedy meshed with the drama, however, as it felt at times like two different films. While Omar Sy and Gloria Colston were extraordinary, it was especially Colston that managed to surprise me with her talent at that young age. My biggest grudge with Demain Tout Commence was the cinematography, though. While I did appreciate the contrast in colours and focus as metaphors for the different emotional stadiums of the story, Massart and Gélin decided to use unusual angles that distracted from the narration. I will give Demain Tout Commence a 7.0 out of 10.
Thank you for reading and don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this review. I would also recommend that you give this movie a try either in cinemas or when it gets released on Blu-Ray/DVD because it isn’t a bad film. I will follow this post with my review for Passenger tomorrow.