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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » See How They Run
See How They Run
Seville Pictures // R // October 7, 2003
List Price: $29.99
Review by Don Houston | posted September 11, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Comedies made in another country are sometimes hard to understand. The reason for this is that often enough, comedy is based on a specific set of cultural circumstances that are unique to the culture in which it was made. After all, what's funny in one area is not necessarily funny elsewhere. If you were to make a movie poking fun at the French, it'd be far more likely to be a hit in England and the USA than in France (for example) based as much on recent events as anything else. The same holds true for movies made overseas. Movies that rely on universal themes have the most chance of working for a broad base of consumers. One such movie was a French comedy, See How They Run (AKA Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez).

The movie centers on an ensemble cast of characters that are going on vacation. One couple is financially well off and going to a typical resort spot. Their neighbors, in an effort to "keep up with the Jones" are going as well but are so deep in debt that they are flat broke (needing to sell their house for funds). The daughter of the first couple is tentatively going to Chicago with a female friend but is, in fact, going with a junior executive employed by her dad. The son of the second couple is going with them but is at that age when he would rather jump off a cliff. Other couples round out the main cast, including one with a super jealous older husband/younger wife, and some that weren't as easy to follow (the subtitles flew in this movie and the names escaped me).

Okay, the central theme here was infidelity. Pretty much everyone in the movie was cheating on his or her significant other. Some of the women cheated with other women, some of the men flirted with other men, while others took a more conventional route. For me, it takes a bit of doing to make such people sympathetic. After all, the married couples took sacred vows to one another and the unmarried couples had some kind of established commitments as well. That most of the characters were also centered on their own needs first didn't help matters much. The interesting thing for me was that the comedy worked more often than not. Some of the humor was subtle, a glance at a statement for example, while other times it's brazen, a character so insecure that he destroys a car thinking the owner is screwing his wife (while it's another mans). But the universal theme of cheating was handled well enough that the movie could appeal to people from all over.

On the down side, some of the characters seemed ill at ease with their roles and even I could notice it through the veil of subtitles and camera tricks. The technical qualities weren't great either. That doesn't mean the show was unwatchable but it just bothered me enough to mention. Lastly, while some performers seemed ideal for their roles, like Lou Doillon as the high-maintenance daughter (she was also good in Bad Company). In all, the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff but this is destined to be an art house film regardless of its quality.

My rating for the movie is to suggest it as a Rent It first since French comedies are an acquired taste to begin with and see if it suits you. If you've seen Director/Performer Michel Blanc's past works, this is more of the same (love him or hate him, he has style), which for me means it's worth checking out. I watched the movie twice and will watch it again in the future as it had some serious replay value for me (as much for the plot flaws as the characterizations). It's not the deeply layered art film that some would prefer but it's not as accessible enough for mainstream audiences either so rent it first to make up your own mind.

Picture: The movie was presented in 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color. There were some compression artifacts at times and print scratches but the grain was the biggest problem (primarily in the darker scenes). The colors looked pretty good with only a few moments of over saturation.

Sound: The sound was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo French with optional English subtitles. The dvd cover had the DTS logo but no such track was present. The vocals were clear and the music wasn't bad but overall, it sounded very average.

Extras: There were some trailers and a double sided dvd cover.

Final Thoughts: Sexual liberation and infidelity are themes common to mankind all over the globe. Let's face it, every culture that has some form of rule, be it a rule relating to relationships or not. Rules, in general, are in place because they are supposed to be a guideline for what is considered acceptable behavior. Some are laws, which are formally adopted rules, and others are social mores that are more informal in nature. Director Blanc makes a number of pointed attacks on said mores in the movie and makes them fairly well. While it wasn't a great movie, it was certainly an interesting one and one that those of you who aren't adverse to subtitles might enjoy.

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