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Cannes 2010. Love-Hate Relationships: "Au petite bonheur" (Marcel L’Herbier, France, 1946)

Cannes 2010

“Brute!” exclaims wife Danielle Darrieux, fainting; “Comédienne!” accuses husband François Périer, lowering his pulled punch.  So goes the first—and finest—10 minutes of Marcel L’Herbier’s Au petite Bonheur (1946), a.k.a. Happy Go Lucky, which has that frantic-nonchalant speed of high society of late 30s Leo McCarey comedies, as well as the facetious charm of the indignant rich.  We’d probably hate the type if they didn’t expend so much energy on wasted playacted huffing, the acrobatics of storming out of and into bedrooms, and instant-switch declarations of hate and love.  The rest of the picture gets bogged down in imprecise writing, too much of actor André Luguet, and their combination into obnoxious misunderstandings.  But before that—when Darrieux’s heckling, scheming jealousy (brilliant: stitching absurd patterns onto the back of her husband’s back so he can never remove his jacket; firing a maid for her violet eyes) is revealed to be because her and Périer’s corporate marriage of convenience has sprouted roots of love—is enough to power a reel of magnificent, flippant farce.

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