My Wife Maurice sounds like a great title for a pro-gay marriage comedy, doesn't it? Well, that's not exactly what this French film is about….
Blond boy Johnny (Götz Otto) is stalking his fiancée, Emmanuelle (Alice Evans). Well, not really. He follows her because he thinks she's cheating on him. After all she is in Venice on the arm of an older man—and Johnny does see her entering a hotel with the man. And she is cheating—with Georges (Philippe Chevallier). Until a phone call from Georges's wife makes it clear to Emmanuelle that Georges isn't divorced like he swore he was. So Emmanuelle goes all S&M on Georges. When she whips out a blowtorch, Georges barely escapes with his life! Meanwhile, Maurice, who volunteers for the Fraternal Aid Society, rides around on his moped collecting clothes donations. Georges, back at home with his wife, soon learns that Emmanuelle is on her way to his house to tell his wife everything. Luckily, he gets the wife out of the house—and when Maurice comes to his door to collect clothes, the two come up with a brilliant idea—Maurice will dress up like Georges's mean and evil wife to fool Emmanuelle! Of course, things never work out as planned. Emmanuelle is insane, and is toting a chainsaw. And her fiancé Johnny is also out of his mind with jealousy and heading Georges's way, too. And did I mention the approaching Mr. & Mrs. Trouabal, who are coming to possibly buy Georges's house from him? You can see where this is all leading, right? A madcap plot of mishaps and mistaken identities.
It's definitely wacky, and funny at times, but not without its problems. First of all, I'm not sure who will be the best audience for this movie. Although it's not really a drag queen movie, it's not quite mainstream enough for straight audiences, except the most artistically inclined. And it's not a gay film, although there are a few attempts at gay camp humor at the end. In fact, it's probably going to be better received by a gay audience despite its lack of gay sensibilities. And while it is funny at times, it eventually begins to feel like a really dragged out (non-intentional pun) Monty Python sketch. I sort of got to a point where I wished it would just end already because it was becoming rather routinely slapstick. And when it does end, it is with a screeching halt, with little fanfare.
Then there are the subtitles. This is a good example of one of the reasons I despise "reading" movies and avoid subtitled films when I don't have to review them. The characters speak so fast in this movie that I spent the whole time trying to keep up with the subtitles that were being thrown at me left and right, and little time actually enjoying what was happening on screen. It was unbearable. Oh, and let me talk about the opening scene. The scene takes place while the opening credits are flashing on screen. The opening credits jump around to various spots on screen. There are subtitles for the credits. There is dialogue going on at the same time. Therefore, there are also English subtitles—at the TOP of the screen to avoid clashing with the credits or the credit subtitles. It gets better! Some of the characters speaking are speaking in English. So there are also French subtitles appearing on screen for the French viewers. It was freaking me out!
But, having said that, I managed to make it through the movie, and there were parts that were just insane enough to get me chuckling. It just was not consistent, and also not the most original plot. The whole "man in a dress" thing is just getting really cliché. It's not the gay 90s anymore. Let's move into the new millennium, shall we?
The anamorphic 2:35:1 aspect ratio isn't a joy to behold. While the print is clean, it's also noticeably pixelated. The blacks are bland and gray, and the colors are soaking wet and bleed into each other, giving us a soft and sometimes blurry image. This is only slightly cleaned up in progressive scan. And the skin tones are on the orange/yellow side..
2.0 stereo dances nicely from left to right. The L/R channels separate nicely from the center speaker bringing pleasant depth to the experience. The bass is also rich, deep and clear.
The main menu delivers clips from the film. There are only eleven chapter selections for this full-length feature. There are trailers for: Cowboys & Angels, Bear Cub, 800 Bullets. There are also 3 text pages of PRODUCTION NOTES, mostly quotes from the director and producer—and they are actually written BEFORE the movie was completed, because they talk about the filming process in present tense. Weird single extra, and not a very alluring one at that.
Headache inducing subtitles, cross-dressing that's not gay enough for gays, yet too gay for straights, and mere splashes of funny moments in an otherwise long-winded comedy of errors makes My Wife Maurice a last resort for viewers—only, I'm not sure which viewers.