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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Described in some quarters as the breakout favourite comedy of the 2017 Cannes Film festival, where it premiered to a standing ovation, Carine Tardieu’s Just To be Sure (Ôtez-moi d’un doute) is a delight.
Erwan Gourmelon (François Damiens) is a munitions clearing expert – yes, they still exist along the coast of Belgium and France, clearing remnants of the two World Wars – when he discovers that the man who raised him is not his biological father. He hires a private detective (the delightfully matter-of-fact Brigitte Roüan) to find his real dad and, lo and behold, the reclusive parent is found not far from where Erwan resides… or so it seems. The man, the now retired geriatric Joseph Levkine (André Wilms), had a one night stand with Erwan’s mother many years ago and Erwan is desperate to find out the truth to show how important heritage is because his daughter, Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing), is about to have a baby and refuses to reveal the biological father. In the meantime, Erwan meets the charismatic Anna (Cécile De France), who’s caring for Joseph, and he finds himself falling for her but, of course, there’s a problem.
Damiens and De France are terrific as the mature couple who have been around the block a few times before, still hoping to find happiness with a loving partner. The pair play the kind of roles that the French film industry excels at but which are largely ignored in Hollywood scripts. Here the writers have devoted time to people who are all around us but are rarely seen on screen and it pays off in spades. It’s an unusual tale carried by a superb cast that once again shows why French cinema is so popular with audiences here.