Welcome Aboard Review

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  • Welcome Aboard film still


Jean Becker returns with yet another whimsical and happily generic comedy-drama revolving around a mismatched relationship.

Jean – son of Jacques – Becker returns with his now-annual middlebrow missive whose sole aim it is to warm the cockles of all who set their eyes upon it. As with his domestic hits, Conversations With My Gardener (2007) and My Afternoons with Margueritte (2010), this saccharine-sweet new work draws on another unlikely friendship, this time between suicidal painter, Taillandier (the ultimate French hang-dog, Patrick Chesnais), who's taking some time away from his wife and life, and a dream-pixieish strumpet, Marylou (impressive debut girl, Jeanne Lambert), whose mother has mysteriously disowned her.

They meet via him picking her up on a rainy evening mere moments after he has tried (and failed) to end his life with a shotgun to the noggin. Their (strictly plutonic!) relationship swiftly develops as a bungled dinner date leads to a hotel room which leads to the full-scale rental of a lavish beach-front cottage.

Again, there's a Rohmer-esque feel to the way in which Becker favours long, naturalistic dialogue sequences and banal domestic colour over big plot machinations and frenzied emotion. Although, as with Becker's previous films, there's a real lack of intellectual rigour to the proceedings which has been replaced, lock, stock and barrel with gooey sentiment and Little Book of Calm-style wisdom bombs.

It's a film which is as hard to criticise as it is to commend. The two central performances are duly charismatic and operate exactly as they should: he's sage yet grumpy, she's peppy yet foolish, so they make for a perfect match. One is initially led to think that Taillandier's depression is born of a fear of death, but his contact and subsequent connection with Marylou helps him to realise that he misses the responsibility of fatherhood. It takes a few crass soap opera turns in its latter stages, and the music cues are manipulative in the extreme, but this otherwise makes for more than adequate viewing for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

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