Old friends rekindle their teenage friendship in a film that belatedly discovers some bite, reports Dan Slevin.
A few months ago, the Greek American family at the centre of the Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise finally made it to Greece and somehow contrived to make it seem like a cardboard version of Greece you might find on a Hollywood backlot.
Never once during that film did I feel a pang to visit one of the glorious Aegean islands that the country is so famous for.
The new French comedy Two Tickets to Greece, however, had me looking up travel agents the moment our central characters arrive off the plane from Paris.
Blandine (Olivia Côte) and Magalie (Laure Calamy) were childhood best friends back in the late '80s but lost touch. When Blandine’s depression after a divorce becomes too much, her son takes it upon himself to reunite the two in the hopes that she can discover a new lease on life. But, these two are craie et fromage – Blandine is a conservative and traditional middle-aged woman while Magalie is a free spirit who continues to whirl through life as if she was still a teenager.
The son contrives to get the two of them on a holiday together to the Greek islands – specifically Amorgos, the island where their favourite film as teenagers, Luc Besson’s The Big Blue, was filmed back in 1988. Magalie’s laissez-faire approach to personal responsibility means they get off the ferry on the wrong island and the personality differences between the two become even more pronounced.
So far, so predictable. Odd couple road trips are ten a penny, but they don’t often have such a beautiful backdrop to play with. However, when they finally get to Amorgos and meet up with an English friend of Magalie’s (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) that the film discovers some teeth of its own.
With long straight grey hair, Scott Thomas looks like Patti Smith and she is determined for her two friends to have the time of their lives. It doesn’t all go according to plan, however, and some unhappy truths are told before all is eventually mended.
Calamy as the untamed nightmare Magalie is very good – it must be tricky keeping an audience’s interest in someone so determined to have a good time at anyone and everyone else’s expense and still be able to mine some sympathy. Côte as Blandine doesn’t have as strong an arc but she makes a good straight man.
If films are a way to travel the world without leaving home, Two Tickets to Greece is a perfectly amiable example.
Two Tickets to Greece is rated M for violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity and is playing in select cinemas around New Zealand.