In the tragicomedy CHAMPAGNE & MACARONS – AN UNFORGETTABLE GARDEN PARTY The concentrated French media world meets in one evening. Unfortunately, this is less amusing than it sounds. We reveal more about this in our review of the film.
The Plot Summary
Nathalie (Léa Drucker), the busy television producer, invites you to the big housewarming party in her villa just outside Paris – with an illustrious guest list: her brother-in-law Castro (Jean-Pierre Bacri) has his best years as a star television presenter behind him. Castro’s ex-wife Hélène (Agnès Jaoui) and sister of Nathalie is once again only advertising her latest refugee project. Their daughter Nina is about to publish her second novel, in which her parents don’t exactly fare well. The garden is constantly filling up with people of all kinds, from the city and the country, wannabe stars, hipsters and bon vivants, YouTubers and influencers, musicians and, in the middle of it all, the hopelessly infatuated waitress Samantha, who only wants one thing – a selfie with Castro. You admire and despise each other, dance and sing, feel cool and alive – and maybe a little lonely at the vanity fair. As the champagne corks pop and the party is in full swing, the civilized masks inexorably fall, revealing an unpredictable powder keg of emotions…
Movie explanation of the ending
The flood of French feel-good comedies began in 2012 with the long-running hit “Pretty Best Friends”. Six years later, the film that gave Omar Sy his international breakthrough is still one of the most successful films in recent cinema history in this country and the remake has now been completed. Nevertheless, since “Monsieur Claude and his Daughters” there has not been another case of French success. Little by little, the field in which new feel-good material from our southwest neighbors used to bloom almost weekly is thinning out, but every now and then they still reach the local cinemas and are even shown at renowned USA festivals; like “Champagne & Macarons – An Unforgettable Garden Party”, which is reminiscent of a film from earlier this year. In “Life is a Celebration”, director Jean-Pierre Bacri covered the events behind the scenes of a wedding party and told the story from the perspective of a party service. Apparently Bacri has taken pleasure in putting festivities through their paces, because his new film (he wrote the script and plays the lead role) is ultimately about nothing else, only this time the focus is not on the fictional members of a catering service, but rather especially the organizers and guests. In keeping with the title “Place Publique”, which seems a bit contradictory at first glance, these mainly consist of celebrities; aspiring influencers, washed-up entertainers and wannabe actresses, to name just three VIP categories presented here. Again and again there are hints of what could have become of “Champagne & Macarons”: a wonderfully self-deprecating look at the need for recognition of each individual guest. But Bacri clings so tightly to his stereotypical characters that his film lacks life.
Even his beautiful girlfriend Vanessa (Héléna Noguerra) can’t get Castro (Jean-Pierre Bacri) out of his midlife crisis.
Is “Champagne & Macarons” a comedy or a drama? For one, the film lacks humor, for the other, depth – and even if the film were a mixture of both, Agnès Jaoui’s film lacks it (“Madame Aurora and the Scent of Spring”) simply in terms of dynamics and drive. This could arise simply from the fuel that such a meeting of egocentrics and vain peacocks brings with it; After all, everyone wants to present themselves at their best in their free time (one of the few successful (running) gags, for example, is the hostess’ constant attempt to place the property she has provided in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis of Paris by using the distance as the crow flies although it obviously takes much longer for any mere mortal to travel from the French capital to the estate outside the country). But it was no coincidence that we reduced the characters to their professions in the first paragraph; You simply don’t learn much more about the many prominent guests at the party and for the few fragments about their background and private life, the makers use clichés that you would expect from the respective clientele. The aging star presenter struggles with his age, the aspiring internet celebrity thinks he is the center of the world and the hostess’s newly immigrated boyfriend – of course an exuberant business lady with a pencil skirt and a skin-tight blouse – hardly speaks a word of French, which of course makes it all the funnier (or better: should be) when he looks naive and talks his head off.
Of course, under expert supervision, the concentrated clash of clichés can also be funny. This often gives rise to the opportunity to later undermine these prejudices, play with them and thus, sooner or later, completely override them. However, Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnès Jaoui seem to be just as uninterested in this as their actors, who all act quite bored. Bacri himself has the most to do, playing the main role with the vain bon vivant Castro. Over the course of the 98 minutes, his character, who simply doesn’t want to accept that his big time is over, goes through the entire failure and attempted comeback. Unfortunately, Bacri gets so absorbed in his role that the relatable core of the former megastar remains completely hidden. Castro remains an obnoxious asshole throughout the entire running time. And whether it finally disappears into obscurity or whether it finally gets another chance is completely irrelevant. What’s a shame about this narrative focus is that the fates of the other characters are just dragged along. These would – at least in part – be far more interesting than an egomaniac constantly wallowing in self-pity.
The waitress Samantha (Sarah Suco) is so enthusiastic about the celebrity that she forgets about her job.
Of all the escapades that only take place on the outskirts of the garden party (and therefore hardly get the screen time they deserve), there are at least small highlights. Above all, the stunning Sarah Suco (“La belle saison – A summer love”) convinces as an excited service worker who is so impressed by the many VIPs around her that she completely forgets that she is actually there to work and prefers to go on a selfie safari instead. And even if a small ray of hope appears on the emotional side and the big hysterical noise makes room for the quiet tones, for example when the recently fired chauffeur Manu (Kévin Azaïs) and the aspiring author Nina (Nina Meurisse) get together and give free rein to their feelings “Champagne & Macarons” gains a little in emotional depth. But what is symptomatic of the entire film is that it is these two who are the first to leave the party. So in the end all that’s left is to look at the one-dimensional characters that remain. This is perhaps logical and is intended to say that sooner or later famous people all have to allow themselves to be reduced to their status as celebrities. But if you’re not one of them, you’ll just watch for an hour and a half while people philosophize about First World Problems. And as chic as the whole thing looks, it is empty and uninteresting.
Conclusion: In the tragicomedy “Champagne & Macarons – An Unforgettable Garden Party” you watch the cliche of high society pondering their first world problems for an hour and a half. Despite some minor amusing moments, it’s probably only exciting for those who are part of it.
“Champagne & Macarons” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from October 18th.