Dir: Olivier Ducastel& Jacques Martineau. Fr. 2005. 90mins.
A world premiere in thePanorama section of the Berlin Film Festival this year, Crustaces EtCoqillages has a couple of English titles in play, Mariscos Beachbeing the one used at Berlin and Cote d'Azur the newly coined title forthe US release in the autumn. Neither can match the sexy alliterativesuggestion of the French title, and indeed this pleasurable comedy of love andsexual identity has scored a slew of sales on the basis of its uniquely Frenchsensibility.
Blending the intellectualself-analysis of classic Eric Rohmer, the joie de vivre and musical trappingsof Jacques Demy and their own distinctively contemporary take on sexuality,Ducastel and Martineau have delivered a fourth film which will raise the roofat film festivals throughout the year and should become a tidy earner on theworld's arthouse circuit.
Bac Films Internationalclosed deals on the title with both key arthouse buyers such as Prokino inGermany, Seville in Canada and Cineart in Belgium and with gay specialists suchas Parasol Peccadillo in the UK and Strand Releasing in the US. The film opensin France on March 30.
The film's key protagonistsare the masculine Marc (Melki) and his wife Beatrix (Bruni-Tedeschi) who are spendingthe summer in the house where March grew up on the Cote d'Azur with theirchildren Laura (Seyvecou) and Charly (Torres). Laura quickly takes off to Spainwith her boyfriend while Charly welcomes his friend Martin (Collin) to stay.
As the summer heat kicks in,Marc and Beatrix begin to suspect that Charly is gay and that Martin is hisboyfriend. In reality, Charly is straight while Martin is gay and in love withhim. Marc meanwhile is upset at the prospect of a gay son, although Beatrix isdetermined to be open-minded and supportive.
Meanwhile, Beatrix's loverMatthieu (Bonaffe) arrives in the town and urges her to leave her husband.While Beatrix is initially annoyed, she begins to enjoy the illicit trysts withMatthieu, especially since her sex life with Marc has become stagnant.
Martin, aggravated by therebuttal of his advances by Charly, starts to explore a local gay cruising spotby a clifftop as does a confused Charly. There, Charly comes across Didier, ahandsome local (Barr) who comes on to him. Although Charly isn't interested,Marc sees them together and his latent desires for men (and a past history withDidier) come raging to the fore.
There's a low-budgetroughness to the film-making which suits the sexual tension, insomnia andmiddle-of-the-night liaisons which make up so much of the comedy. A couple ofmusical numbers may not have much polish, but the energy and good humour of theperformers and the story keeps them appropriate.
The film's determinedly goodnature, lack of moral judgment and stylish execution will win it many fans,especially among gay and lesbian audiences among whom Ducastel and Martineauare becoming increasingly well-known. But straight audiences will also relateto the film and well-known actors like the deliciously free-spiritedBruni-Tadeschi and a super-muscular Jean-Marc Barr will help to attract them.
Prod cos: Agat Films, Bac Films
US dist: Strand Releasing
Int'l sales: Bac FilmsInternational
Scr: Olivier Ducastel &Jacques Martineau
Prod: Nicolas Blanc
Cine: Matthieu Poirot-Delpech& Antonie Heberle
Prod des: Lise Petermann
Ed: Dominique Gallieni
Mus: Philippe Miller
Main cast: ValeriaBruna-Tedeschi, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Marc Barr, Jacques Bonnaffe, Romain Torres,Sabrina Seyvecou, Edouard Collin