Everybody Loves Jeanne (Tout le monde aime Jeanne) Review – Perth Lotterywest Film Festival

Jeanne (Blanche Gardin) is having a very bad year. Her pivotal marine-cleaning invention is an instant-disaster, failing at launch and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Jeanne turns into a social media celebrity for all the wrong reasons as videos of her diving into the ocean to rescue the heavy device cause her to become a joke. On top of this, her mother has passed away. Saddled with an insurmountable debt, Jeanne returns to Lisbon to sell her mother’s apartment to try and gain some kind of relief. So begins Céline Devaux’s charming and sweet midlife crisis rom-com, Everybody Loves Jeanne (Tout le monde aime Jeanne).

Dishevelled and hiding behind gargantuan sunglasses, Jeanne waits to board her flight to Lisbon, encountering an old high school acquaintance, the ethical kleptomaniac, Jean (Laurent Lafitte). We first see Jean walking out of a store ‘accidentally’ wearing a pair of sunglasses, setting off the security alarm. Feigning ignorance, he returns the glasses, wandering off. Once safely out of range, he pulls out a second pair of comically undersized glasses. Noticing Jeanne, Jean immediately picks up a conversation with her that he feels was left hanging from decades ago, pushing his way into her day, and giving the notion that his presence will bring further chaos to her life. What eventuates is a surprising and entertaining narrative of a free-wheeling figure who takes life as it comes and dances around disaster effortlessly melding his life with a frazzled and burnt-out person who simply just wants all of the dilemmas in her life to just disappear.

Devaux plays in the same realm that the great Sarah Watt (Look Both Ways) did, presenting a glimpse inside the minds eye of the protagonist. The light and frequently outrageously funny encounters between Jeanne and Jean are interspersed with superbly animated scenes of Jeanne’s ‘Petit fantôme’ (voiced by Devaux), the little voice inside her head that argues with her, pushing her to do things, encouraging her to say things, prodding and poking at her urges. These utterly delightful moments help set Everybody Loves Jeanne apart from your routine ‘midlife crisis’ comedy, elevating it into a genuinely memorable experience.

The presence of the Petit fantôme reminds us how the conversations we have with our own mind is a truly bizarre experience. Our mind conjures a thought, it then critiques that thought, often yelling at itself and ridiculing the basis of the thought, and then it reasons with itself. What a fascinating organ. (As I’m writing this review, I’m having my own mini-existential crisis as I realise that my brain is writing about other brains thinking about themselves. Quick, slap me back into reality.)

Such is the delight of Everybody Loves Jeanne; it manages to make the grounded reality of our daily existence so deeply relatable, while actively exposing the farcical elements in ways that only the French could. Blanche Gardin’s deadpan performance as Jeanne perfectly bounces against Laurent Lafitte’s oafish and observant Jean, and when Jeanne’s now-married ex-boyfriend Vitor (Nuno Lopes) gets thrown into the mix, then outlandish events occur.

What further cements the joy of Everybody Loves Jeanne is the manner that Devaux folds the presence of Jeanne’s mother, Claudia (Marthe Keller), into the narrative. Her existence is felt through the artwork that adorns her apartment walls, the myriad of books and trinkets that line her shelves, and in the streets of Lisbon itself. The apartment and the city have become Jeanne’s mother, with echoes of her footsteps carrying in front of Jeanne’s path. Devaux leaves us at the films close with a nurturing moment that provides a satisfying sense of warmth and comfort. Additionally, the tender presence of Simon (Maxence Tual) as Jeanne’s brother, provides a support and ballast for Jeanne, with Simon understanding completely the precarious place that Jeanne’s mind sits in.

I’m always grateful for films like Everybody Loves Jeanne. They don’t announce their presence with a level of pomp and grandeur that says, “I am important, pay attention to me”. Instead, they invite you in, make you a coffee, and say, ‘have a little bit of cheeky fun,’ and dash a splash of whiskey into the mix. I had a lot of fun with Everybody Loves Jeanne, and I’m pretty sure you will too.

Director: Céline Devaux

Cast: Blanche Gardin, Laurent Lafitte, Maxence Tual

Writer: Céline Devaux

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian cinema, Australian politics, Australian culture, and Australia in general. Found regularly talking online about Sweet Country, and reminding people to watch Young Adult.

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