I'd love you to met a really nice guy.

I’d love you to met a really nice guy.

You know how it usually goes: You meet a person, learn what makes them tick, go out a few times, stay in a few times, and then hopefully start seeing long-term potential. For many of us, that final assessment involves introducing them to our parents. For many others though, that final assessment involves introducing them to our children…who can be much tougher critics!

It’s enough to make some long for the easy A that parents give our relationships!

LOLO begins by introducing us to the vacationing Violette (Julie Delpy) and Ariane (Karin Viard). Both in their mid-40’s, both with young adult children, the women are trying to enjoy a moment’s peace from their busy lives and discuss the important things in life; work, children, and sex. While on this trip in the southwest of France, Violette meets Jean-René (Danny Boon).

Actually, “meet” isn’t quite the right word. He drops a massive tuna in her lap and spends several agonizing minutes apologizing. If that’s not a meet-cute for the ages, I don’t know what is. Once the waters have been smoothed, Violette looks at Jean-René and sees…possibilities. The two have a go, and what seems like it will be a one night stand soon turns to three nights…then twenty.

Eventually, Jean-René is following Violette back to Paris, where he hopes to finish his IT development and mix-in his budding relationship with the fashion industry impressario.

There’s only one problem…

As their relationship begins in Paris, Violette’s son Eloi – or “Lolo” (Vincent Lacoste) has moved into his mother’s flat after some time away and is suddenly a de-facto third wheel. What’s more, he is fiercely protective of his relationship with Violette and quickly decides that Jean-René is not up to the task.

He even grades him a “D”, as in “Douchebag”.

So it goes that Jean-René and Violette begin to fawn over one-another while Lolo runs interference unbeknownst to them. His ideas are sometimes passive-aggressive, such as suggesting wardrobe options to the style-deficient Jean-René that are wildly inappropriate. Other times he’s more malicious, such as when he sprinkles itching powder around Jean-René’s clothing leading to much embarrassment and suspicion during an outing with Violette.

While these moments of relationship idiocy make things tricky for the couple, usually, Jean-René and Violette are able to smooth things over. It just means Lolo has to try harder if he wants to remain the man in Violette’s life…and clearly, he wants to remain the man in Violette’s life!

 

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Before the film gets overtly goofy, it walks down an interesting path; specifically, love in an adult world. Jean-René and Violette are both in their mid-forties, and relationships at that age unique in many ways. For starters, they can seem almost trivial; a wish that should have been abandoned years ago like thoughts of starting a band or backpacking around Europe. In truth though, not only is the want of a relationship after 40 a real one, but it is something we seldom see on-film.

The truth is that the want for companionship is every bit as real, and as this film underlines (oddly, but more on that later) it comes with complications. We look and listen as all involved talk about how things re perceived; how they are not only being judged on who they are, but who they were, and how they arrived at this stage.

So it goes with the vacationing Violette when she even considers bringing another man into her bed. Should she look for something fast and dirty, or something lasting. If she does, is a man like Jean-René a good candidate?

On the reverse side, a man like Jean-René would have parallel thoughts – wondering what a person who is only average looking and only somewhat charming should expect. It plays a much lesser role than the concerns Violette holds about herself, but surely Jean-René looks in the mirror and knows his options are limited. Hell, a young man like Lolo doesn’t think much of him – what chance does he stand in the eyes of someone as lovely and sophisticated as Violette.

So when we take those questions and attitudes about how people see themselves by a certain age, we get the fuel for an interesting story. Then we make it more complex by exploring a new family dynamic when all involved are grown-ups. It’s not often in movies that we watch love bloom between consenting adults when another consenting adult is down the hall occupying a twin bed. It adds a twist to the proceedings, since we never really want to think about our parents or our children that way…and yet, by a certain age, it’s unavoidable.

Such personal complexities woven into this romp should make it a nuanced joy to watch unfold…and yet, it eventually feels muddled.

 

The difficulty with LOLO comes down to its tone. The film is, of course, a satire – a silly trifle about the co-dependence that can grow between mothers and sons.  Thing is, well before we get to the payoff, we find ourselves wondering how any new couple could endure what Jean-René and Violette are able to endure. Around the time things get truly criminal, we end up wondering how any of this could be both accepted by Violette and overcome by Jean-René. The whole thing tiptoes towards “Three’s Company” big misunderstanding territory. While the film does make clear just how goof it’s being by the end, by that stage it’s almost too late.

There’s so much time early on spent with Violette and Ariane being so frank with one another, that for a while it feels like the main thrust of the film will be about their search for happiness (and the role Jean-René plays in that). Even Lolo’s first few objections don’t seem so out of the ordinary. What I’m saying is, the jump from “This guy gets a D” to professional sabotage is a huge one, and not a landing most films can nail.

By the time LOLO gets there, it has built up enough goodwill for us to go along for the ride, but it’s a close call. There’s a world of difference between clingy and oedipal, and it’s important to establish that early on. By playing coy with it, LOLO lessens the love we lavish.

 

Matineescore: ★ ★ 1/2 out of ★ ★ ★ ★
What did you think? Please leave comments with your thoughts and reactions on LOLO.