YOUR TURN, MY TURN -- West End Circle
Like sweet bonbons airily bouncing over the sea, blithe little French films seem to float into town and onto the screen. "Your Turn, My Turn" is the latest, and as usual the topic is l'amour -- of the adulterous illicit variety. This time the angle is whatever to do with the children so mama and papa can persue their affairs in peace.
Agnes (deftly played by Marlene Jobert), an interior decorator, is married to an immature, self-centered concert promoter who looks uncannily like Abbie Hoffman. She meets Vincent (Philippe Leotard), a cuddle-bear divorce, at the zoo, symbolically enough, where their cars, with kiddies in the back seat, even more symbolically couple bumpers. Romance of course blooms, but is disrupted by skinned knees, chicken pox and mere childish whims -- chiefly by Agnes' Jerome. Guilt is this little Oedipus' weapon and he knows exactly when to turn the screw. Agnes ultimately caves in to the emotional blackmail wielded by her odious husband-and-son team only to be abandoned for her sacrifice.But all works out in the implausible "seven years later" ending.
Sophisticated flights of make-believe, these glib French fairytales are sort of like our '30s screwball comedies, only with subtitles and heavy breathing. Everyone is young, rich and beautiful, skidding about on a thin plot held together by preposterous coincidences. Anything that cannot be made light of, such as Agnes' employer's suicide after her daughter's lethal drug overdose, is disposed of quickly and emotionlessly, almost as an aside, so as not to disrupt the pace.
"Your Turn, My Turn" also owes a big debt to "Cousin, Cousine," whose adulterous lovers struggled to break free from stifling family ties. There's even a pastry-gorging scene identical to that in "Cousin, Cousine" save for the addition of little Jerome looking on in disgust. Some may be disturbed by the way the film snickers at parental responsibility. "Why sacrifice yourself for the little monsters? They only leave you anyway" seems to be the message. But the chief function of this film and others of its ilk is to amuse. Like a bonbon, "Your Turn, My Turn" is not meant to fill you up, just leave a sweet taste in your mouth -- with just a slight trace of acid.