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Die Rumba-Therapie (Rumba Therapy, Rumba La Vie)
France/Belgium 2022

Opening 22 Jun 2023

Directed by: Franck Dubosc
Writing credits: Franck Dubosc
Principal actors: Franck Dubosc, Louna Espinosa, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Marie-Philomène Nga, Karina Marimon

Tony (Franck Dubosc), a simple kind of macho guy with simple commitment-free tastes in his fifties, has steady nonchallenging work he spices up with indecorous linguistic lessons, humor, and patience. The guys at the bus garage get along, and straight-talking Gilles (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) points Tony in the right direction. Even his neighbors Fanny (Marie-Philomène Nga) and three kids are tolerable—the feeling is mutual. Following Tony’s cardiac wake-up call, Dr. Mory (Michel Houellebecq, the French writer, satirist, and provocateur) drolly advises he make lifestyle changes—the doctor’s bedside diagnosis scene is one of many with pitch-perfect comedic timing. Tony pays attention.

Suddenly anxious, he decides to reconnect with his daughter; twenty years earlier he walked out on Carmen (Karina Marimon) and daughter. Carmen’s husband Philippe (Philippe Uchan’s almost wordless performance is noteworthy) takes his appearance in stride; after toying with Tony, Carmen gives him information how to find Maria (Louna Espinosa). Afraid of rejection, and at odds with truthfulness, Fanny teaches him to dance, and then, incognito, Tony signs up for one of Marie’s classes. Waltzing into the Parisian école de danse he gets an eyeful, is ill at ease and out of step. Once he starts, balancing moves to pull off the ruse is challenging. Although Maria rumbas ahead of “Kevin’s” bumbling activities.

Writer-director-actor Franck Dubosc’s stand-up comedy background shows; some scenes the timing is priceless, e.g., when Philippe opens the door to a trepid Tony, plus scenes where action combines with spot-on minimal dialogue, e.g., Maria’s boyfriend Diego (Constantin Vidal) giving Tony another wake-up call. Dubose downplays the dancing focusing instead on family constellations and relationship complexities. The cast, with impeccable performances, exceed in fleshing-out likable characters. First-rate production values include Ludovic Colbeau-Justin and Dominique Fausset’s cinematography; Sylvain Goldberg and Matteo Locasciulli’s rhythmic music and Samuel Danési’s editing keeps time with the tempo. From laugh-out-loud humor to quirky characters and emotional insight, Rumba Therapy’s prognosis is unbeatable goodtime fun. (Marinell Haegelin)

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