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American Women's Club of Hamburg

THE BARE NECESSITY - film review

Erwan le Duc, France

This quirky French movie is set in the Vosges forest and the director has made good use of the picturesque scenery. A young woman pulls into a layby in her laden, battered car. While she is stretching her legs, another young woman, completely starkers, jumps into her car and drives away. Juliette (Maud Wyler) next appears in the local police station where she reports the theft to Pierre, a policeman whom life is quietly passing by. Pierre (Swann Arloud) is immediately attracted to this unusual stranger and explains that a colony of nudists live in the forest and often steal things and harass villagers as a form of protest. Pierre is a captain in the local Gendarmerie but he has an equally important job as head and housekeeper to his needy family. His mum (Fanny Ardant) is grieving for her husband who died suddenly. She operates a question-and-answer programme about love and its problems on a local radio station. Nobody takes an interest in it, so Pierre and his brother (Nicolas Maury) supply the questions. Mum compensates for the loss of her husband by having a stream of lovers and is completely self-absorbed. Pierre also takes care of his brother, who is making the study of worms his life’s work and his niece, who is quietly unhappy because she lacks affection. Juliette knocks on the front door of the unkempt house, where Pierre’s dysfunctional family lives, in her quest to find her car and her diaries. She has written these since leaving home at sixteen when her uncaring parents parted company with her. She asks for a sofa to sleep on until her property is found. Well, one thing leads to another and you can guess the outcome.

Juliette’s behaviour and her questioning approach to life act as a catalyst. Pierre and his family begin to acknowledge that they must stop living in the past. The arrival of this unusual woman helps everyone move forward. When Juliette’s car is found, it has been stripped naked by the nudists in the forest, but what can have happened to the diaries? This is an absorbing, light-hearted movie with an unmistakable French charm about it. (JM)

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