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Frühstück mit Monsieur Henri (The Student and Mister Henri, L'étudiante et Monsieur Henri)
France 2015

Opening 21 Jul 2016

Directed by: Ivan Calbérac
Writing credits: Ivan Calbérac
Principal actors: Claude Brasseur, Guillaume de Tonquedec, Noémie Schmidt, Frédérique Bel

She has two left hands, is chaotic and clumsy when working at her father's country market stall. Constance hates being called a loser by her father. Enough is enough! She packs her bags for Paris where she hopes to continue her studies. The first hurdle is to find a place to live.

Monsieur Henri, a grumpy old man, lives on his own – if you don't count his tortoise – in his beautiful and spacious 19th century apartment. It was his son Paul's idea to find a boarder who can look after his ailing father. Not a good idea thinks Monsieur and acts accordingly when Constance rings his bell. He is as offish as can be, complaining about the entire world and calling everyone an idiot, including his 40-year old son. But Constance is happy to move in. A job in the nearby bistro helps to get some cash. After a month she has not paid the deposit yet and cannot even afford the monthly rent. She has to leave. Where would she go? Monsieur has a suggestion – a very immoral one. If beautiful young Constance could make eyes at his son Paul so that he would lose interest in his stupid wife Valerie, she could stay rent-free for three months.

Constance is shocked but she is also desperately broke. Surely, this cannot go well. Paul is surprised to suddenly being admired by this young girl. He is blooming, his self-esteem is built up. This leads to some rather sad but also comical situations. In fact, all family members are being faced with an unexpected look into their present life. Henri turns out a wise old man, discovering Constance's musical talent. She in turn deals with his hidden guilt regarding his wife's death. Both are instinctively helping each other despite their sharp-tongued dialogue.

This French comedy is witty, emotional and has a lot of charm. It offers worldly wisdom without swamping it with sentimentality. The well-experienced Claude Brasseur (born 1936, partnered Romy Schneider, Sophie Marceau, Catherine Deneuve, etc.) and Noémie Schmidt, acting in her first full-length movie, make an excellent team. They are a pleasure to watch.  (Birgit Schrumpf)

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