A powerful romantic comedy with a poetic touch, the winning French film ‘FanFan’ mixes romance with a sense of tragedy, in dealing with an offbeat love triangle between a complicated young man, his loyal girlfriend, and a spirited student he meets by chance.
Alexandre (Vincent Perez) has found that his relationship with his loving fiancée Laure (Marine Delter) has become stale, and decides to take a break to the coast. While staying at his friends beach front property, he meets and dates a beautiful student; Fanfan (Sophie Marceau), who soon falls in love with him. Confiding of his relationship issues with his friend Ti (Gérard Séty), they decide that Alexandre should court Fanfan without ever making known his feelings for her. This way he can marry Laure, but stay in love with Fanfan. Of course, life could never be that simple, and before long, jealousy, ultimatums and other complications follow, leaving the question: Will Alexandre and Fanfan ever really be together?
What makes ‘Fanfan’ such a treat to watch are the captivating turns from the two main leads. Beautiful Sophie Marceau is ideal as Fanfan, and although already an established star in France, would gain worldwide recognition two years later when she played Princess Isabelle in ‘Braveheart’ (’95) opposite Mel Gibson. Marceau would later play the Bond villain Elektra King in ‘The World Is Not Enough’ (2000), before continuing to have great success in France, which included the title role of a recently widowed nurse in the acclaimed drama ‘Nelly’ (’04). As Alexandre, Swiss-born actor Vincent Perez is very appealing in a sometimes difficult role. Perez had come to prominence playing opposite Gérard Depardieu in 1990’s ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, and Catherine Deneuve in the Oscar-winning ‘Indochine’ (’92). Perez would later take the role of Fanfan, but this time as a swashbuckler, in a 2003 version alongside Penelope Cruz. The stunning Marine Delterme does well as Laure, and you really do feel sympathy towards her understandably hurt character.
Writer-director Alexandre Jardin made his debut here, and has only made two other movies to date; ‘Oui’ (’96) and ‘Le Prof’ (’00), both comedies but neither with the magic touch he brought here. I’ve always loved the oft-mentioned scene where Fanfan is enjoying her morning routine of dancing around her apartment while, unknown to her, Alexandre is looking on through his two-way mirror, joining in her carefree frolic. You never look at Alexandre’s two-way apartment mirror set-up as sexual voyeurism, but as his way of ‘living’ with her without the two actually being together.
A tender tale of love, filled with energetic performances and quirky moments, ‘Fanfan’ is a beautiful love story, and with a delightful open-ending, one that the French are adept at pulling off. It doesn’t wallow in sentimentality, and the chemistry between the two stars is fantastic, making it a diverting romancer that can leave you pondering what ‘love’ really is.