There are some words or expressions that we’ve just decided to remain in French, because sometimes, the French are able to describe something in their language that we’re unable to translate, because they’ve nailed it. Be it ‘bon voyage’, ‘joie de vivre’ or even ‘crème brulee’ – sometimes we’ll just leave things as they are. Another, is ‘ménage a trois’ – a classier, more eloquent way of saying ‘threesome’. There’s a reason why we’ve left this expression in its original form, because there’s a certain charm and a romanticised viewpoint on the French’s liberal relationship with sex, with an elegance and maturity about it, and it’s prevalent in their cinema – which is what allows for Jérome Bonnell’s All About Them to be so engaging, as we study the complexities surrounding an amorous if somewhat bawdy love triangle.
Anais Demoustier plays Mélodie, a lawyer who has fallen in love with her close friend Charlotte (Sophie Verbeeck), despite the latter still being in a relationship with Micha (Félix Moati). Though one evening, when Micha is giving Mélodie a lift home, just to complicate matters further, he professes his love for her, and while reticent at first, she soon reveals herself to feel the same way about him. So now both Charlotte and Micha are having affairs – with the same person, while Mélodie has to decide who she will choose, or whether she can carry on going behind both of their backs for a little longer.
Given the playful nature to this narrative, there’s a distinctive farcicality to this endeavour, with certain sequences taking place in the couple’s apartment that aren’t too far removed from the likes of Marx Brothers features, or plays such as One Man, Two Guvnors, with almost choreographed sequences with Mélodie navigating, on tiptoes, her way around their humble abode. When serving the narrative it works well and adds a certain charm to proceedings, but at times Bonnell can be accused of implementing in a superfluous fashion, such as when Micha falls over in the street, with a drop almost as theatrical as that of Mrs. Doyle’s in Father Ted. The comedic elements are essential to this piece, but are ramped up in parts where a more dramatic approach would be preferred.
It’s emblematic of a feature that struggles to find a compatible balance between comedy and pathos, as while in one moment we’re taking a slapstick approach, the next we’re studying one of Mélodie’s cases she is working on, as she defends sexual deviants, like an elderly rapist. Her work is unsettling and feels wildly out of a place in what is otherwise a playful, relationship comedy – which is undemanding in its execution. Nonetheless, thanks to a beguiling display from the ever-dependable Demoustier, we’re onside throughout – which is rather important, as it’s imperative we sympathise and feel endeared to the role of Mélodie, in spite of the fact she’s home-wrecking – from both sides.