I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single, 2006

Forty-something perfume developer, confirmed bachelor, and henpecked (and only male) sibling in a decidedly female-centric household of six children, Luis Costa (Alain Chabat) – still nursing a wounded heart from his only serious relationship during his twenties (a personal milestone that he nostalgically, but nebulously remembers as his “The Cure phase”, indelibly marked by his gothic, Robert Smith-styled, oversized fashion sense, his lover’s decision to leave him following an introductory meeting with his disapproving family, and his accidental discovery of his life-long passion when he attempts to recapture her essence by chemically synthesizing her complex scent into a fragrance) – has been officially classified as long overdue for marriage by his well intentioned, but intrusive family (in a motion overwhelmingly passed by the women under the collective resolution brought to the family’s “G7” domestic committee). In an attempt to stave off his sisters’ aggressive attempts at matchmaking – and who, in turn, have taken the cause of finding a suitable wife for their visibly disinclined brother by flooding the internet – Luis enlists the aid of his best friend and business partner, Pierre-Yves’ (Grégoire Oestermann) bohemian sister, Emma (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who, having recently ended a long-term relationship and moved back to France, is eager to prove her financial stability as she settles into a new phase in her life and prepares to petition a Chilean orphan for adoption. Hatching an elaborate scheme to rid the family once and for all of their chronic interference into his romantic life by transforming Emma into the ideal fiancée in order to win the hearts and minds of his sisters and, above all, the family matriarch, Geneviève (Bernadette Lafont), before staging a sudden break-up where he would assume (and eagerly exploit) the role of jilted lover humiliatingly left at the altar, Luis’ bright future of meddle-free bachelorhood seems tantalizingly within reach, until he finds himself on the defensive in the chaotic aftermath (and familial wrath) of the aborted wedding against amorphous accusations of unspecified transgressions that undoubtedly caused such a perfect woman to escape his grasp. Evoking the slapstick comedies of Francis Veber in its tortuous, absurd, over-the-top, rapid fire scenarios, Eric Lartigau creates a whimsical, charming, and infectious, if perhaps, characteristically outré romantic farce in I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single. Supported by equally solid performances from veteran actors Chabat (who also conceived the idea for the script) as cosseted man-child and hopeless romantic, Gainsbourg as the world-wise, but vulnerable object of affection, and Lafont as the indomitable, yet overindulging mother prone to histrionics, the film is an enjoyable, well crafted, and irresistible tale on the inexorable – and enviable – travails of love, commitment, and family.

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