Happy 50 [Plancha] — Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

Review by Michele E. Hawkins.

Long-time friends Antoine (Lambert Wilson), Baptiste (Franck Dubosc), Laurent (Lionel Abelanski), and Jean-Mich’ (Jérôme Commandeur), along with their wives, are taking their other best friend, Yves (Guillaume de Tonquédec), to sunny Paros in Greece to celebrate his fiftieth birthday.  But serious weather grounds their flight, so the group goes for a sunny beach holiday at Yves’s family home in Brittany.  And there the friends find themselves largely confined indoors due to relentless rain.

Increasingly bored, the old friends revisit old times, and things take a turn for the worse as what they really think of one another emerges.  Their wives, doing their best to stay out of the rising chaos, aren’t especially enjoying themselves either, but it is Yves’s wife, Laure (Lysiane Meis), who quietly and politely endures the worst time of all.  Forced by circumstance to play hostess — cooking, cleaning, and serving — rather than holiday with the rest, and making everything as nice as possible for them, she is largely ignored as they focus on their petty grievances.

Once the birthday celebration is under way on the big day, it all finally goes so painfully and whackily wrong that the friendships of a lifetime may be in tatters.

With terrific performances bringing to life characters with the kinds of foibles we should have left behind when we reach our fifth decade, Happy 50 is a romp, bringing to light much that the protagonists would have preferred remain hidden as the mayhem of shattered illusions tests loyalties and fortitude.  For a satisfying, often very funny, couple of hours away from it all, Happy 50 is the ticket.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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