"Your Turn, My Turn," a French movie known as "Va voir maman, papa travaille" in its country of origin, takes a weirdly alienating turn after starting out like a harmless variation on "A Man and a Woman" and "Cousin, Cousine." I doubt if the alienation effect was intentional. Director and co-writer Francois Leterrier probably hoped to use the framework of a bittersweet romantic comedy to express the authentic conflicts of feeling in new lovers who are circumscribed by parental and social obligations left over from failed marriages.
What he ends up expressing is pointlessly crankish resentment. "Your Turn, Mry Turn," now at the West End Circle, moans and groans about the very institution of parenthood. Leterrier imagines it as preventing his lovers from being as inseparable and insatiably horny as they desire.
Tough. Given my own fondest obligations and prejudices, Leterrier's Complaint is bound to seem ridiculous at best and contemptible at worst.
In "A Man and a Woman," as we all recall, an attractive widow with a cute kid and an attractive widower with a cute kid enjoyed a picturesque love affair rescued from the brink of failure at the fadeout. In "Cousin, Cousine" a nice wife betrayed by her philandering husband and a nice husband betrayed by his flighty wife got revenge on their spouses by consummating a picturesque affair enhanced by the consumption of desserts. In "Your Turn, My Turn" Marlene Jobert, a part-time interior decorator whose marriage has become a burdensome formality, meets Philippe Leotard, a divorced architect, while they're driving their kids through a wildlife preserve. In fact, they "meet cute" when Jobert rear-ends Leotard, causing their cars to lock bumpers.
As the characters in "Movie Movie" might say, their hearts lock bumpers too. Although their respective jobs and domestic situations make it a little complicated to get together, one perceives no insurmountable obstacle to their blossoming romance. The complications themselves appear to be a source of amusement, a device for enhancing the romantic comedy appeal of their affair. Moreover, Jobert's spouse is such a shameless cheat that he appears to be begging for the old "Cousin, Cousine" comeuppance.
Without the slightest justification Leterrier begins pretending that Jobert and Leotard can never find total romantic gratification, which appears to be his idea of what they have an inalienable right to expect. Suddenly the kids, who seem like adornments to begin with, are being blamed for the lovers' inability to satisfy their raging passions. Their bliss would be unlimited, it seems, if only they could disregard those cumbersome little creatures.
Leotard salvages a heavy rendezvous by slipping his little daughter a mickey. Jobert, vacationing at a hotel with her little son, sneaks into the bathroom and turns on the water to obscure her fervent phone conversations from the child's tender ears.
No, these details aren't meant to be satirical. Neither are they intended to diminish your liking for the lovers as decisively as they do. Supporting characters are brought on to reinforce the pestilential view of parenthood. Jobert's boss, Micheline Presle, commits suicide after her beautiful daughter (Laurence do Monaghan, the Claire of "Claire's Knee") overdoses on drugs. Jobert's older sister, a well-organized mother of four, is revealed to be living in a fool's paradise, because her kids turn out rotten too. Why sacrifice for the little creeps? All they're good for is breaking your heart.
"Your Turn, My Turn" may be a revealing wail from the depths of the Me Generation of parents, but I doubt it. Leterrier's Complaint has all the authenticity of Christina Crawford's accusations against her mother. The style of expression is so outrageous that who can believe a word of it?