Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Fly Me to the Moon (orig. Un Plan Parfait) 
Fly Me to the Moon (orig. Un Plan Parfait)  [IMDb] [AC]* (directed by Pascual Chaumeil [IMDb] [AC]* screenplay by Laurent Zeitoun [IMDb] [AC]* and Yoann Gromb [IMDb] [AC]* with collaboration by Béatrice Fournera [IMDb] [AC]*, story by Philippe Mechelen [IMDb] [AC]*) is a French language (English subtitled) romantic comedy that recently opened Chicago's 3rd Annual French Film Festival held at the Music Box Theater in Chicago and cosponsored by the French Diplomatic Mission in the United States.
The film begins with an upper middle class Parisian family hosting a recently dumped/divorced friend of theirs named Valérie (played by Laure Calarny [IMDb] [AC]*) for Christmas dinner. After Valérie breaks down weeping at the dinner table, her host/best friend Corinne (played by Alice Pol [IMDb] [AC]*) tries to cheer her up, telling her that in her family "first marriages" were something of a curse going back (remember this is France ... ;-) four generations to her great-grandmother and that almost everyone since has ended-up, for one reason or another divorcing their first spouse. (Apparently even Corinne was married now, apparently happily now, to her second husband Patrick (played by Jonathan Cohen [IMDb] [AC]*) but had to divorce some poor soul to get there).
"Well that's a terrible curse," Valérie replies. Corinne agrees that indeed it has been a terrible burden. She then proceeds to recount to Valérie the story of her own sister Isabelle (played by Diane Kruger [IMDb] [AC]*) and her 10 YEAR struggle to try to get around this terrible curse. For while in "dental school," Isabelle "tragically" fell in love with the perfect guy, another dentist named Pierre (played by Robert Pagnol [IMDb] [AC]*). Afraid to get married because then he'd be "the first spouse" and hence their relationship would be "doomed to fail," Isabelle insists that they just live together to keep the curse at bay. So they settle down and live together for 10 YEARS quite happily settling into a happy if ordinary routine of a couple married in all by name.
However, as the ten year mark approached, not getting younger, Isabelle wanted a child (again, a "modern" couple...). Here Pierre told her that they can't have a child out of wedlock because his mother would never forgive them. If they wanted a child, they had to get married.
So they come to an impasse. What to do? Well that's then when Corinne and Isabelle come up with the "Perfect Plan" (which is the French title of the film): What if Isabelle went somewhere (far...) "on vacation," married some random guy that she met there and then quickly divorced him. Then she'd be free to marry the Perfect Pierre and live happily ever after. But she'd have to "go far" to so that "no one would know her there" to pull this plan off.
So ... the next scene has Isabelle dressed in a stylish but very heavy white winter coat heading to a place where no Frenchman/woman of any sense would ever go ... to Scandinavia in the Winter ;-). And on her flight to Copenhagen, she immediately runs into the perfect, "inconsequential schmuck" named Jean-Yves (played by Dany Boon) to make the plan work. She looks at him as someone who's beneath her. He looks at her "kinda out of his league" but somewhat surprised (the recent hair implants must have really worked ;-) ... he's JUST ADORABLE ;-) that she's talking to him. And so he happily chats away on the flight while Isabelle tries, really, really hard not to roll (or even close... ;-) her eyes... but he'd be "perfect" for the plan.
When they get off at the plane at Copenhagen, Isabelle who's endured an hour of chatting with a guy she just wants to marry and dump, is shocked to find that Jean-Yves is NOT going to Scandinavia but is actually on his way to Kenya (WHO IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD FLY FROM PARIS NORTH TO COPENHAGEN IN THE WINTER ONLY TO FLY ALL THE WAY TO AFRICA AFTERWARDS? Well Jean-Yves ;-). So what to do now? Isabelle decides that she's gonna get on the flight to Nairobi as well. So she goes to the ticket counter and finds, of course, that Coach is long filled, but for an OBSCENE AMOUNT OF MONEY she could fly business class. So what the heck (and remember, this is a romantic comedy ... not necessarily bounded by the limits of common sense), she buys the business class ticket so as to go to Kenya as well (all for the good of her future second marriage to the Perfect Guy Pierre).
She then runs into Jean-Yves at the gate. "Oh, YOU'RE GOING TO NAIROBI AS WELL!" Jean Yves exclaims. Going up to the ticket counter, to get his boarding pass, Isabelle acompanies him and asks the attendant if they could sit next to each other. Rolling her eyes, the attendant tells her that he's (of course) flying coach while Isabelle (the attendant had just sold her the ridiculously expensive business class ticket) is not. Isabelle then tells the attendant to just randomly bump somebody else up from coach to business class, that she'd really prefer coach.
Well when they randomly "bump someone up" to business class, guess who gets "bumped up"? Jean-Yves! ;-). So in the next scene, we see Jean-Yves, smiling from ear to ear playing with his fully reclinable seat control while sipping a tropical drink with a parasol, while we see Isabelle squashed between two really really tall Kenyan guys back in coach ;-).
They arrive in Nairobi. Happy and clueless Jean-Yves happily hops onto a public transport bus (he's been to Kenya before ...), while Isabelle following him at a discrete but still stalkable distance (still wearing her stylish, but now really out of place heavy white winter coat ;-) hails a taxi which follows Jean-Yves' bus. Jean Yves gets off said bus by a fairly nice touristy hotel, Isabelle's taxi pulls in soon after. She enters after he checks in, and gets a room for herself soon afterwards. Then she discretely "runs into him" again at the hotel. Only he's acting kinda odd, looking like he's talking to himself. What's going on? It turns out that he's talking into a dictaphone, and actually he gets kinda irritated when she suddenly appears talking to him because she broke him in mid-sentence: The reason why he travels the way he does is that he apparently writes tourist guides for people in France. Well that actually sounds kinda cool. She asks if she can tag along. He asks only that she "keep quiet" when he's talking into his little dictaphone... ;-). Shrugging her shoulders, she does.
This actually becomes kinda interesting because at some point he rents a jeep and they ride-out to Mount Kilimanjaro. There a number of adventures ensue ... including they nearly get eaten by a lion (a homage to Earnest Hemmingway ;-) and ... get their car stolen. Walking back ... ;-) ... they come across a Meru village in the midst of a traditional communal marriage ceremony. Following the procession of young people passing between two lines of solemnly assembled village elders, they find themselves "accidently married'! Mission accomplished! And the best part is, nice-guy ever-smiling Jean-Yves doesn't even feel himself particularly married and there appear to be no documents. So ... she sidestepped "the curse" WITHOUT actually hurting anybody or going through a messy divorce... and after a few days of smiling "PG-rated" fun out there in and around Nairobi, Isabelle and ever-smilin' Jean-Yves part ways ;-)
... 'CEPT (and of course there's a 'cept ;-) when she flies home to Paris and Perfect-guy Pierre proposes to her soon afterwards, when she goes up to the Marriage Court there in Paris, she discovers that SOMEHOW "they" (the Marriage Court officials) KNOW that she was married out there in Kenya. So now she has to look-up ever-smiling (and ever-traveling) Jean-Yves and get him to sign a divorce.
She catches up to him out in Moscow (the stylish white winter coat ends up being useful after-all ;-) ;-) and he's actually kinda hurt that she wants to divorce him even if he didn't really feel or realize that he was married to her. So eventually he signs said divorce papers and walks off to a GIGANTIC (and actually LITERALLY "off the wall" monument to Yuri Gagarin ... ;-) to talk to his dictaphone about it ... and ... she kinda feels sorry for him ... and follows him as well. He tells her that she "can go," that they were never really married and now they were divorced. But she stays because she starts to realize that as corny as Jean-Yves was, he always actually SHOWED HER A GOOD TIME ;-). Perfect Pierre did everything "perfectly" but being perfect, he was actually "kinda boring," while she honestly never ever knew what was going to come next with smiling Jean-Yves.
And leaving the GIGANTIC literally "off the wall" Moscow monument and its solemnly assembled wreath carrying soldiers still dressed in Soviet era style uniforms, he tells her that he has one last place to go ... to a nearby airport where the Russians offer moneyed tourists to experience the zero-gravity sensation of free-fall inside the plane JUST LIKE THE ASTRONAUTS/COSMONAUTS used to experience in their training exercises. WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE BLAST that was (and probably the inspiration for the English title of the film: "Fly me to the Moon" ;-).
After all this, Isabelle has a dilemma: Who to end-up with? Perfect Pierre or smilin', somewhat corny but always unpredictable Jean-Yves? I'm NOT going to say how it ends, but we find that this story serves the purpose of introducing Valérie to "the other guest" that the family was inviting to Christmas Dinner ;-)
HONESTLY WHAT A GREAT STORY! ;-)
* Rough (machine) translations of foreign language websites are generally most easily obtained using the Chrome browser.
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