The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
"Happily Ever After" is among other things a dirge for the death of the French style of adultery. These Parisian philanders seem no more chic than your average cheating American. Recall the elegance of the adultery in a film like Renoir's "Rules of the Game," and then regard a couple in this film having a food fight. Of course, in Renoir the elegance was all upstairs among the aristocrats, while the gamekeeper and the footman chased each other around the kitchen, fighting over the gamekeeper's wife. Has everyone in France moved into the kitchen?
The movie opens with a man making a crass pickup attempt at a bar. The woman who is his target efficiently dismisses and humiliates him, turns her attention to another man, and picks him up. In no time at all they are plundering their netherlands in a parked car, and it is only when they get inside an apartment that we realize they are man and wife. It's a game to bring a little spice into their marriage.
That couple is Vincent, played by Yvan Attal, who also wrote and directed the movie, and Gabrielle (Charlotte Gainsbourg, his real-life wife). Another couple in the story is the miserable Georges (Alain Chabat), whose feminist wife Nathalie (Emmanuelle Seigner) finds fault with everything he does, including buying gender-appropriate toys for their children. What does a little boy need? A toy vacuum cleaner, obviously.
These two men join in an occasional poker game with Fred (Alain Cohen), a bachelor and obsessive ladies' man, and an Indian man who enjoys frequent and satisfying sex with his wife after 20 years. The plot, which is generous with its characters, also provides Vincent with a mistress (Angie David), who at one point is actually talking to him on her cell phone while sitting at the next table in a restaurant from Vincent's wife. We also meet Vincent's parents (Anouk Aimee and Claude Berri) and the mistress's mother (Aurore Clement), looking uncannily like a mistress herself.