[Last Film I Saw] Happenstance (2000)


English Title: Happenstance
Original Title: Le battement d’ailes du papillon
Year: 2000
Country: France
Language: French
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director/Writer: Laurent Firode
Music: Peter Chase
Cinematography: Jean-René Duveau
Audrey Tautou
Eric Savin
Nathalie Besançon
Lysiane Meis
Eric Feldman
Irène Ismaïloff
Frédéric Bouraly
Franck Bussi
Saïd Serrari
Lily Boulogne
Gilbert Robin
Marina Tomé
Félicité Wouassi
Antoine Coesens
Françoise Bertin
Louison Roblin
Manuela Gourary
Abbdessamad Chahidi
Eunseon Patricia Lee
Rating: 5.8/10

It’s Audrey Tautou before AMELIE (2001), from writer/director Laurent Firode, HAPPENSTANCE is adept in contriving a string of butterfly effects engendered among two dozens of people in one day until at the very end concludes with a boy-meet-girl scenario, they share the same birthday and meet earlier in the morning, then fate brings them together in its unique design, with a bruised nose.

The brisk premise of a horoscopic premonition is intriguing, the pace is upbeat and the camera is restless in introducing a kaleidoscope of quirky dramatis personae into the stage one after another, bewildering sometimes, then once we get a hold of that it is an assemble piece whose mainstay is hanging on a thin theory of unwitting behavior’s chain-reaction, its allure begins to dwindle, the desultory contrivance oversteps the original intention of “an accidental slice-of-life”, the story is totally at the disposal of writer’s wild and arbitrary imagination as long as the circle meets its end in the coda (not such a demanding request for one who is capable of imagining), which could be assessed as an artistic shortchange fails to meet the face value of a feature film, a concise short form is enough to spread this one-track mind precept.

There are no clear leads inasmuch as the bulky cast, so besides Tautou and Faudel’s belated encounter, other threads never have their own closures, e.g. Eric Feldman’s mendacious museum guard and Eric Savin’s wavering husband, neither find their answers in their respective stores. Maybe it is what happens in real life, but as an entity, the loose-ends are despondent and incompetent. Luckily, the film should be merited for its variegated caricature of human behaviors, mostly are transient due to the repetitive structure, nevertheless the film entertains audiences in its down-to-earth earnestness and leaves us a wistful sigh only if fatalism could dominate the world, life would be much easier and simpler!


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