L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri (The Student and Mister Henri)
A sweet little film brings together the real struggles of relocating to Paris as a student and a rare inter-generational friendship, weaving a tender story of both hilarious and tear-jerking moments. L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri dips its toes into many comedic scenarios, from conflicting family dynamics to rollicking misunderstandings, passing by a coming-of-age narrative thread. Between the lines and the jokes lie the life lesson all family drama-comedies seem to need, making this a cute, but down-to-earth, feel-good movie.
Directed by Ivan Calbérac, this is the story of Constance, a province girl who enrols at a university in the French capital despite her father’s discouraging comments on her lack of talent or ability in any trade. Facing the well known (and always shocking) saturation of the Paris real estate market, she moves in with Henri, an unwelcoming and sulky old man. A few initial hiccups in the cohabitation lead to a new landlord-tenant pact: Constance must seduce his son, in order to rid Henri of the daughter-in-law he despises. The four characters discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses along the notes of Constance’s delightful piano compositions.
In the role of the grumpy old man, Claude Brasseur is lovable in the way the crabby elderly can be – a fun, memorable character, all sarcasm and harmless hostility until the ice is broken. Noémie Schmidt as Constance is sweet, cheeky, and sometimes more than convincing. Guillaume de Tonquédec as the son, Paul, makes 40-year-old nostalgia look as awkward and pathetic as can be. A special mention to Frédérique Bel, who plays the part of wide-eyed, witless, cat-obsessed, exasperatingly dumb daughter-in-law Valérie.
Calling Paris-based students to identify with Constance and her ridiculously difficult search for a room, L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri truthfully depicts those everyday obstacles and joys, connecting them into an emotional parallel with Mr. Henri’s personal life. The sympathy that develops between the two improbable roommates, as Henri faces his past demons and Constance her present ones, is heartwarming – and probably quite rare in real life, despite the movie yearning at all times to be as relatable as possible.
L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri has all the solemn moments, comedic instants, and approximative moral maxims the drama-comedy recipe calls for. A comfort film for moments of discomfort, to reanimate one’s faith in human relationships.
L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri (The Student and Mister Henri) is released in selected cinemas on 26th June 2016.
Watch the trailer for L’Etudiante et Monsieur Henri (The Student and Mister Henri) here: