Review by Michele E. Hawkins.
City dwellers Hippolyte (Thierry Lhermitte), Romain (Ramzy Bedia), Antoine (François-Xavier Demaison), Michel (Laurent Stocker), Ivan (Pascal Demolon), Noé (Michaël Grégorio), and Eliott (Max Baissette de Malglaive) have only one thing in common: each is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Life’s burdens having pushed them to their emotional limits, each decides to attend a four-day retreat offering restoration of their equilibrium. With a little time away from the city, without the pressures of work and home, with a little pampering, they’ll soon relax and let their problems slip away… that is, after a short walk to the resort. Well, perhaps not too short a walk.
Naturally, the retreat isn’t anything like any of the men imagined, and initially feelings run high; but their calm, smiling life coach, Omega (Marina Hands), placidly shows them their options and lets them get on with making the best of things.
Between Omega’s eccentric guidance; the men’s discoveries of their true selves; and their dawning ability to open themselves to others, healing begins. Fears, grief, anger, and disappointment have lurked unaddressed for years. After all, aren’t men strong, resourceful, dependable? Mustn’t they be the one others can rely on, the shoulder to cry on rather than the shoulder seeker?
A thoughtful and poignant portrayal of the constrained inner lives that men can find themselves living as they strive to meet expectations about what it means to be a man, Men on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is also very funny. The film explores some stereotypes, certainly, but it does so with maturity and compassion: heartfelt as well as entertaining. Viewers are sure to leave the cinema with a wry smile.
Screening at Palace cinemas.