Looking for Hortense
After nominations at both the César Awards and Venice Film Festival, French film Looking for Hortense is becoming a highly anticipated release this summer. Starring Jean-Pierre Bacri (Look at Me) and Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), and co-written and directed by Pascal Bonitzer, Looking for Hortense is a dark comedy about one man’s obligations and frustrations.
Bacri and Thomas play life partners Damien and Iva. When Iva urges Damien to call in a favour with his influential father Sébastien (Claude Rich, Je t’aime je t’aime), Damien reluctantly agrees. His tense relationship with his father makes this a difficult prospect, and the film follows Damien’s resolute quest to speak to his father, while grappling with a belligerent pre-teen son and a budding friendship with a troubled young woman named Aurore (Isabelle Carré, Romantics Anonymous).
Though well-written with smooth realistic dialogue, the film does move somewhat slowly in parts. This is a movie that requires the audience’s rapt attention, though it is certainly rewarding in return. Bacri is effortlessly relatable as the beleaguered family man; his affable character is consistently put down, but audiences will find themselves rooting for his happy ending. Perhaps predictably, Thomas is simply spectacular. Her character Iva is in some ways the antagonist to Bacri’s hero, but it is refreshing to see her play the part as a flawed human being rather than a villain. Isabelle Carré plays a downtrodden dishwasher, serendipitously crossing paths with Damien throughout the film. Carré lights up the screen with a natural, likeable presence that is perfectly in tune with the sweet nature of her character.
There is no shortage of chemistry between Bacri and his leading ladies. Bacri and Thomas have the comfortable, easy rapport typical of life partners. Meanwhile, Bacri’s scenes with Carré are uplifting due to the joyful exchange of charm between the two. However, this chemistry is purely amicable, though at times it seems it is intended to be romantic.
Despite its comedic elements, the film deals with some rather heavy subject matter, much of which is left unresolved. The pace is not in keeping with traditional comedies, and will not appeal to those looking for light entertainment or side-splitting laughs. That said, Looking for Hortense is well-written, thoughtful and beautifully performed.
Looking for Hortense is released nationwide on 9th August 2013.
Watch the trailer for Looking for Hortense here: