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Le Bonheur Est Dans Le Pre Review

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Saddled with a failing business and an uncaring wife a middle-aged man stumbles upon a way out of his humdrum existence after watching a reunion show on TV.

★★★★

With a title which translates as Happiness Is In The Field, this latest effort from Chantillez (Tatie Danielle, Life Is A Long Quiet River) is a black comedy of life-swapping, deception and chicken plucking.

The story revolves around toilet seat manufacturer Francis (Serrault) who - saddled with a failing business and uncaring wife - sees a way out of his humdrum existence on a TV programme where a beautiful woman (Maura) and her lovely daughters appeal to find their long lost husband/ father whose old photo is the spitting image of a younger Francis. Egged on by best friend Gerard (Michel), Francis joins his surrogate family and an idyllic new life on a picturesque farm, only for the truth of his past to slowly catch up with him.

How this intriguing premise develops is engaging and consistently amusing, and is all underplayed to a tee. Serrault breezes through the transformation from henpecked husband to blossoming flower with ease. And further down the cast list is one Eric Cantona who is unexpectedly convincing as a rugby-playing suitor.

If it eventually runs out of steam and lacks visual flair, the storytelling is delightfully unforced and enriched by witty sideswipes at middle class mores, the French love of gastronomics and the emotional manipulation of TV reunion shows.

Worth seeing before the inevitable Hollywood remake botches it big-time.

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