Review: Hello Goodbye

By Jenni Frazer, November 20, 2009

Dirs. Graham Guit | France, Israel and Italy | 2008 | 95 mins | French with English subtitles

All the international star power of Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant cannot really rescue this thin comedy drama about the perils faced by a smart Parisian couple when they have a joint mid-life crisis which makes them move to Israel.

Alain Gaash ("with two 'a's") is a typical secular Parisian Jew, a well-respected gynaecologist with a gorgeous but apparently not very bright wife, Gisele, who converted to Judaism when the couple married 25 years before.(Quite how Alain, who was never circumcised, got to marry in shul, is not explained at this point.)

It is the decision of their only son, Nicholas, to marry his beloved Gladys (Gladys?) in church, that precipitates Gisele into searching for something new and meaningful in her life. And if it is new and meaningful in Gisele's life, then the same has to go for Alain.

Off they duly go to Israel, where, in a gorgeous plug for the David InterContinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, Alain and Gisele rediscover their marriage. In probably the only unscripted scene in the film, Ardant sexily devours various suggestive vegetables over dinner, to the evident increasing hilarity of Depardieu, who seems to be egging her on.

From thereon in, however, the film just degenerates into the broadest of comic disasters. Gisele and Alain decide to make aliyah, and we are asked to believe that a senior gynaecologist would a) move countries without securing a job; and b) end up washing cars instead. Please. Depardieu is a fine clown but even he looks as though he has given up towards the end of the film, not least when he duly undergoes the long-anticipated circumcision.

Meanwhile, two fine Israeli actors, Lior Ashkenazi and Sasson Gabay, are wilfully wasted in caricature parts. More Goodbye than Hello, I feel.

Last updated: 2:58pm, February 18 2011