Saturday, October 04, 2008

[French Film Festival] Bad Faith (Mauvaise Foi)

Tough Love

For all the seriousness of the topic in examining whether race, culture and religion would come to play in a relationship between two lovers, the last movie I had watched which broached the topic, was the zany Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess With The Zohan, where his Israeli superspy falls for a Palestinian hairdresser many miles from home at the Big Apple. Bad Faith tackles the same core issues, and while it does have its funny moments, contains more thoughtful insights to this real world predicament.

Ismael (Roschidy Zem, who also directed this movie) and Clara (Cecile De France) are the perfect cross-cultural couple who has spent the last 4 years in a trouble-free relationship. Being non-practising in their respective religions (he's Muslim while she's Jew), the notion of religion, race and culture doesn't factor into their relationship until the coming of an unexpected baby. The consideration of having to inform their respective parents fed on their fears of having them reject their other half, and it even boils right down to details such as the baby's name, whom Ismael is dead set with naming him after his dad.

This exploration of unfounded fears provide much verbose insight to some of the nagging thoughts one would probably have when trying to appease the older generation, who in their earnestness would like to see an in-law coming from the same cultural/religious background for ease of assimilating with one another, and the potential avoidance of conflicts. At one point, one of the parents requested their child to consider all the trouble they would expect from frowning neighbours in their community, which stem from the lack of understanding, and fueled by deep prejudice and discrimination.

Which is a reminder that usually, a union of 2 actually is a union of more, which includes immediate family members, like it or not, who play a huge role in determining if the union thereafter would be stress-free. Clara's parents Victor (Jean-Pierre Cassel) and Lucie (Martine Chevallier) become confused with their daughter's choice for a husband, and the former works at Ismael being converted to Judaism to appease his wife, much to Ismael's amusement. On the other hand, Ismael finds difficulty in breaking the news to his mother, for fear of what he thinks will be a downright disapproval given Clara's background.

This examination of issues will test the resolve, depth of love and trust that the couple has for each other as it tears through the fabric of their open-mindedness and beliefs, and it's not always just between the two couple though, as Ismael's best friend Milou (Pascal Elbe) who is also a Jew, provide yet another outlet for the venting of frustration and deep rooted fears.

But don't be mistaken it's not all doom and gloom. Despite some genuinely funny laugh out loud moments, Bad Faith does provide for some critical moments where you're more than likely to be finding yourself rooting for the couple against all adversary that come their way. Both leads are charismatic enough for anyone in the audience to want to wish their characters well (The last time I saw Cecile De France was in the bloody gore movie High Tension, so it's a very different take here to see her in a romantic comedy) and it does play on some of our unfounded fears, so it's really just taking things as they come, while remaining optimistic that they will indeed turn out for the better, especially when you have love conquering all.

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