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Having learned from her stay-at-home husband, Piotr (Dany Boon) of an added guest for their dinner party - her recently jilted lover, Jean-Louis (Laurent Stocker), Marie-Laurence (Karin Viard) impulsively decides to invite her Spanish dance instructor Manuela (Blanca Li) in order to maintain the balance of men and women at the table. With the building access code having been changed earlier in the day, Marie-Laurence's estranged father, Henri (Pierre Arditi) unexpectedly coming for a visit, traffic a virtual standstill with the advent of a street fair, and friends gynecologist, Mélanie (Marina Foïs) and her oncologist husband Alain (Patrick Bruel) uncommitted about coming to the dinner party - Mélanie having decided to reveal her affair with a jockey and ask for a divorce that evening - the occasion turns from carefully planned event to barely controlled chaos, with Marie-Laurence's younger sister, Juliette (Marina Hands) deciding to drop in for a visit with fellow actor, Erwann (Patrick Chesnais), and divorce attorney, Lucas (Christopher Thompson) dragging along his neurotic wife Sarah (Emmanuelle Seigner).

Review by Louise Keller:
Lies, truth and the consequences are the themes of this lively relationship drama in which the intersection of personal and business collides at an annual dinner held on Street Music Night. It doesn't come close to Danielle Thompson and son Christopher Thomson's 2002 collaboration for Jet Lag, which is one of my favourite films, but there's an appealing mix of characters that weave their way in and out of each others' lives. For me, the script is too busy - we are constantly jumping from one character, one relationship, one situation to another, so we never have enough time to invest in any one of them. As a result, while it's a pleasing meeting of ideas and characters, a satisfying pinnacle is never reached.

Everything starts on the night of June 21, when dinner is being held at the home of house husband Piotr (Dany Boon) and his achieving attorney wife Marie-Laurence (Karin Viard). A few extra guests are invited at the last minute, like ML's flamenco dance-teacher Manuela (Blanca Li), to even up the numbers. There are few unwelcome ones too, like ML's father Henri (Pierre Arditi), who has long been estranged from her actress sister Juliette (Marina Hands). There are unhappy career couples like divorce attorney Lucas (Christopher Thompson) with his would-be authoress wife Sarah (Emmanuelle Seigner) and unhappy medico couple, gynocologist Mélanie (Marina Foïs) and her oncologist husband Alain (Patrick Bruel), who joke that while she announces births, he confirms upcoming deaths.

The various characters are linked in more than several ways and there is much complexity in the way their lives play out as a result of their evening together. There's no faulting any of the performances but I got confused by who was who and as a result became frustrated. I was more interested in the fabulous music score which includes great flamenco guitar and keeps the mood uplifted throughout.

DVD special features include interview with Daniele Thompson and trailer.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
So far the most ambitious (and least cohesive, especially in the first half) of their collaborative screenplays, mum Danièle and son Christopher Thompson fuse two formulas into one. The catalyst dinner party and the annual reunion are blended into a hybrid that seems clunkier than its component parts. The first act consists of preparations for a dinner party whose guest list expands in defiance of the hostesses' plans. But it comes together with energy - and not a little conflict between some of the guests. By the time they eat, we're fatigued and confused .... Who? What did they say?

The screenplay orchestrates the dinner to ensure we not only meet them all but get a snapshot into their agendas and relationships. There is plenty of scheming going on, but the Thompsons never get too judgmental and never stop caring for their characters. The result is a busy, complex mix which is at first is dizzying for its pace and cinematic style.

The pace slows once the dramatic elements of infidelity start to bite and the resolutions of relationships begins to work to work themselves out - but without easy solutions. In that respect, the film deconstructs the common French perception of bourgeois middle age, in which nothing really important on an emotional level ever happens. The true bourgeoisie are only concerned about their comforts and financial future. Here, the Thompsons throw hand grenades into that mindset, and suggest that 40 year old middle class professionals struggle with the same life juices that inflict themselves on the working class. They just wash it down with better wine.

Elevated by superior performances from an exceptional cast, the film finishes well, but requires patience and concentration (especially if you're relying on the subtitles).

Published July 14, 2010

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(France, 2009)

Le code a changé

CAST: Karin Viard, Dany Boon, Marina Fois, Patrick Bruel, Emannuelle Seigner, Christopher Thompson, Marina Hands, Patrick Chesnais, Blamca Li, Laurent Stocker, Pierre Arditi, Jeanne Raimbault

PRODUCER: Christine Gozlan, Alain Terzian

DIRECTOR: Danièle Thompson

SCRIPT: Danièle Thompson, Christopher Thompson


EDITOR: Sylvie Landra

MUSIC: Nicola Paviani

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michèle Abbé-Vannier

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Not released theatrically


SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer, interview with Daniele Thompson


DVD RELEASE: July 14, 2010

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