JUST TO BE SURE

★★

A BAFFLING FRENCH FILM

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
30th November 2017

Walking into ‘Just To Be Sure’, I knew few things: 1 - It was French. 2 - It was a comedy. 3 - It received uproarious laughter and standing ovations at the Cannes Film Festival. Walking out of ‘Just To Be Sure’, I agreed with one of these things. It was most definitely French.

Erwan Gourmelon (François Damiens, ‘The Belier Family’) is an explosives expert who runs a company that handles all the leftover bombs and such in post-WWII Europe. He’s single and lives with his pregnant 23-year-old daughter Juliette (Alice de Lancquesaing, 'Heal The Living', 'Frantz'). During a routine doctor’s appointment for the baby to test for genetic diseases, Erwan inadvertently discovers that his father is not his father. Tracking him down, Erwan develops a relationship with his new dad and sister/potential love interest Anna (Cécile De France, 'Hereafter', 'Chinese Puzzle') while juggling this secret from his other father and a pregnant daughter who refuses to recognise her baby’s father.

'JUST TO BE SURE' TRAILER

So, ‘Just To Be Sure’ is a comedy? I’m not sure where the comedy is supposed to stem from. Is it Erwan’s job? Because if the highly dangerous job of bomb disposal is hilarious then I need to rewatch ‘The Hurt Locker’ because I grossly misinterpreted that film. Is it the constant arguments between a father and daughter about the rights of a father, and the rights of a baby to know their father? Is it the side-story of possible incest? I mean, I know ‘Game of Thrones’ has made it “cool”, but it’s still icky. Sure, there’s a comic foil played by Estéban (yes, just Estéban) who is the most bizarre looking Frenchman, ever. But other than his few memorable scenes, I failed to muster enough LOLs to consider this a comedy and not a sad drama about family dynamics with an incestuous undertone.

'Just To Be Sure' is a comedy? I’m not sure where the comedy is suppose to stem from.

Okay, so mentally I should switch gears and base my appraisal on this film as a drama, right? But that’s just it. 'Just To Be Sure' doesn’t seem to know what it is. It’s uncomfortable instead of being awkward. It’s sad when it should be sympathetic or endearing. And it’s cautious when it should be vulnerable.

François Damiens is always a delight and a favourite in French cinema, but this time his choice has missed the mark for me. Not quite a comedy, not quite a drama, but it is French. Take from that what you will.

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