And If We All Lived Together? is very much a French feel-good movie


Starring Geraldine Chaplin, Jane Fonda, and Pierre Richard. In French with English subtitles. Rated 14A.

The word commune conjures up images of 25-year-olds, not 75-year-olds. It suggests a time in your life when you’re worried about entering the world, not fearful about leaving it. Nevertheless, after one of them celebrates a major birthday, a group of five really old friends somewhat grudgingly decides that sharing the same address might not be such a bad idea in this slice of greying life from writer-director Stéphane Robelin.

Of course, being French and relatively well-to-do, communal living for Annie (Geraldine Chaplin), Jean (Guy Bedos), Claude (Claude Rich), Albert (Pierre Richard), and Jeanne (Jane Fonda) means Brie and champagne more than it does granola and LSD. In lieu of a nude-swimming hole, this aging quintet opts for an in-ground swimming pool, despite the strident objections of Jean, the group’s token Marxist. A more youthful perspective is provided by Dirk (Daniel Brühl), a German ethnology student who gradually decides that exploring the mysteries of aging Europeans might be as rewarding as doing similar research in the Australian outback.

Although reality is not exactly ignored in And If We All Lived Together? (Alzheimer’s disease and heart attacks are constant shadows, as is the Big C), this is very much a French feel-good movie. Both the underlying sentiment and the overlying cinematography are relentlessly sunny, even when death, jealousy, and other unpleasant things occasionally intrude. The all-star cast is skilled and clearly enjoys playing off each other (especially Fonda, who hasn’t been this good in years). Ordinarily, a less-gritty U.S. remake would follow in fairly short order, but French motion-picture demographics are much more democratic than their North American equivalents. Whether or not an overwhelmingly adolescent audience would warm to such a story remains to be seen.

Watch the trailer for And If We All Lived Together?.

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