In Bed With Victoria
Aida Vucic | 08/03/2017
In Bed With Victoria is a quirky romantic comedy.
Victoria (Virginie Efria) is a single mother of two young girls, struggling with a midlife crisis, semi-drug dependence and low libido. She seeks solace/guidance from any known practitioner including a psychologist, psychic and acupuncturist. Essentially, her life is much like her apartment; a mess. Her career as a Parisian lawyer is her only refuge from her dismal life but even that’s in jeopardy, as her ex-husband pursues his aspirations as a writer and uses Victoria as his muse. Spilling sensitive information about her and her previous clients, he seems intent on portraying her as a scheming harlot.
The film centres around a peculiar law suit, which sees Victoria, as a favour to her friend Vincent (Melvil Poupaud), defend him in one of the most absurdist crimes in recent film. His ex-girlfriend (or current girlfriend depending on which way the wind is blowing that day) has levelled allegations that Vincent stabbed her with a butter knife at a recent wedding; a wedding Victoria was at too. Ironically, this incident wasn't the most major event at the wedding for Victoria, as there she bumped into Sam (Vincent Lacoste), a former drug dealer she successfully defended. Lactose serves as the unlikely love interest of the tale.15-years Victoria’s junior, the pair are odd at best and we should perhaps feel squeamish about that, but instead we find ourselves relishing the moment Victoria declares her feelings to Sam.
Justine Triet’s In Bed With Victoria may be unfamiliar to regular viewers of French cinema; particularly the variety we are exposed to here in Australia. Having seen a number of French films before where the heroine is played as a cool, sensual woman, it was refreshing to find that the film opts for a more Hollywood-style, strong woman at a low point type story. There’s no denying the similarities the film shares with Amy Schumers “Trainwreck”. Other than the actresses both sharing the same unapologetic curves, their characters are equally self-deprecating. In contrast to its Hollywood equal, Triet achieves what “Trainwreck” fails to; a genuine film celebrating the complexity of life with humour and heart. Although at times the film verges on the implausible, with two of its key witness in the form of a Dalmatian and Chimpanzee, it never strays too far into absurdist comedy to remove this feeling of believability.
The cinematography and score are colourful and intense, highlighting the insane, as well as the comedic, elements of the film. Miss-en-scene is used to spectacular effect to colour much of Virginie Efrie's performance. Regularly, the juxtaposition of costume and set decoration brings insight into the chaotic nature of this seemingly put together woman. The score also helps this discord, with key scenes of turmoil being accompanied by swelling, discordant music (the title scene at the start is particularly reminiscent of this).
Sometimes it is difficult to judge a film by the same standards as a Hollywood piece when it is made elsewhere, particularly as French cinema is so different structurally and tonally to American cinema. However, despite potential structural necessitates, it does feel like the picture would have been better served by a more structured first half. It really is in the final third that the movie soars, and by this point it has developed a clear point of conflict and structure.
Nevertheless, In Bed With Victoria is a beautiful and affecting French comedy that is a must see during this years Alliance Francaise French Film Festival.
In Bed With Victoria is an animated exploration of the balancing act that the 21st Century woman experiences. Its chaotic and quick and sure to have viewers grinning by the closing scene.