C'est la vie!

Delightful French comedy following a diverse and eccentric event management staff as they orchestrate an elaborate wedding

Film Review by Carmen Paddock | 21 Jun 2018
  • C'est la vie!
Film title: C'est la vie
Director: Éric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Macaigne
Release date: 31 Aug
Certificate: 15

Films about weddings are plentiful. Film centring not around the happy couple but those who work behind the scenes to make it happen are less so. C’est la vie! follows an event management staff – caterers, musicians, and one grouchy anti-technology photographer – as they orchestrate a sumptuous wedding at a 17th century chateau. With personal and professional tensions on the rise and an increasingly self-absorbed groom’s demands coming thick and fast, it is clear from early on that this wedding is not going to go to plan.

Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache – the cowriters and codirectors behind 2011’s charming Intouchables – are on top form here, establishing the quirks, quibbles, and passions of each of their many players naturally. Their plot twists spring organically from cleverly-disguised Chekhov’s guns, the revelations of which are often presented as comical smash cuts. The large, diverse cast are strong across the board. Jean-Pierre Bacri’s Max, head of the catering staff and the rambunctious group’s de facto leader, deserves special mention for anchoring the ensemble; he is a perfect foil for his more volatile employees. Sound and cinematography are well composed: a light score underscores the antics’ rapid pace, and the chateau’s lovely scenery becomes somewhat nightmarish as the wedding practicalities threaten to overwhelm everyone.  

As expected, plans go awry. An unexpected delight, however, is just how over-the-top and laugh-out-loud ridiculous these shenanigans get before the night is out. Additionally, this is not a mean-spirited story; no character – no matter how irritating and pompous – is hard done by the time the credits roll, and there’s just enough saccharine after the chaos to warm the heart. C’est la vie! is a lowkey comic gem that kindly plays on the foibles of human nature.

C’est la vie! screens at Edinburgh International Film Festival on 22 & 23 Jun – more info and tickets here – and is released 31 Aug by Cinefile

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