Happiness Never Comes Alone Movie Review

Featuring: Gad Elmaleh, Sophie Marceau, Maurice Barthélémy, François Berléand, Michaël Abiteboul
Director: James Huth
Screenplay: Sonja Shillito, James Huth
Website: www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/19011/happiness-never-comes-alone
Australian release date: Thursday 30th May

Reviewer: Karen
One-word verdict: fun

Sacha (Gad Elmaleh) is a Peter Pan whose motto is “no alarm clock, no wedding ring, no taxes”. He might add no children – he is allergic to them, he claims! He spends his evenings in a jazz club where he seduces pretty girls, drinks with his mates and plays some piano. By day, he’s a jingle writer.

Charlotte (Sophie Marceau) has three children and a career to manage, as well as a CEO ex-husband whom she can’t shake loose.

The two have nothing in common – except an instant attraction for each other when they meet in a chance encounter on a rainy day, when nothing is going right for Sacha. From there, it’s all up…and down…and up…and – well, you get the idea.

A French slapstick rom-com about a commitment-phobic muso who falls for a mother of three children. Mmm.

I wasn’t holding out much hope that this would tickle me. Physical comedy is not my thing, but the early scenes of Charlotte falling flat on her face, getting drenched and hit in the face with thrown car keys in rapid succession were saved from banality by the sheer watchableness of Sophie Marceau. She is just gorgeous, and so is Gad Elmaleh, who plays Sacha, the archetypal man-child.

There’s not much new to be said about the theme: love must win out, of course, after the protagonists have sampled its delights, resisted togetherness as long as they can and then faced all the obstacles the scriptwriters can throw up (literally, in the case of the recurring vomit shenanigans from Charlotte’s youngest).

It’s all done well and amusingly, it must be said, and Happiness Never Comes Alone, while ridiculously trite, is good for a few laughs.

My favourite part was a scene in which Sacha tries to pick up a sleeping child to transfer him to his own – the child’s, that is – bed. There should be a disclaimer in the credits: ‘No toddlers were harmed in the making of this film’. It seemed deliciously politically incorrect to see a little one manhandled as he is, albeit his baleful glare made him look, as Sacha observes, like a “midget Phillip Seymour Hoffman”.

Also deliciously non-PC is Sacha’s grandmother, who advises him to check his girlfriend’s children while they are asleep to see if they’re circumcised. Bad granny!

Sacha, with his magic tricks, pillow fighting and poor handyman skills, wins Charlotte’s children over in double-quick time, even the young teen-aged daughter. Just suspend disbelief: the girl’s an urger in this situation!

There’s also some enjoyable piano music, and lovely idiomatic French to listen to in this confection.

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One thought on “Happiness Never Comes Alone Movie Review”

  1. Nice pithy review, Karen, although in terms of the assessment you’re far kinder than I.

    The reference to the kid as a “midget Phillip Seymour Hoffman” was about the only moment that drew something approaching a smirk outta me. The only other plus, for me, was Sacha’s enraged piano playing at one point, when he was bludgeoning the keys in a fit of despair. Oh, and Sophie Marceau’s delectable bod, of which we got a good and gratuitous eyeful on many occasions.

    But these minor ticks aside, I found this profoundly unfunny from beginning to end. Doesn’t help that I loathe slapstick except when it’s done by one of the masters (say, Sellers at his best, or the silent movie era stuff). All that clumsy shit of Marceau’s was just irritating for me, and as for the multiple crashing DIY repair failures…the noise, the noise! That face-pulling manically try-hard friend of Sacha’s was the worst, though. I wanted to…to…arrrrggghhh!

    I was so bored half-way through. I knew the rom-com formula demanded a love-bird relationship crisis, but merde, how long did it take? And then they had to get back together after it and I’m stuck in the damned cinema until they do! Mon dieu, life’s too short…

    Front-runner for barker of the year for me.


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