Stars: Emmanuelle Bercot, Vincent Cassel
2 (out of 5) Globes
There are bad relationship movies and then there are bad relationship movies that make the viewer feel like they’re in a bad relationship. Such is “My King,” a movie with enough talent to convince you, every 10 or so minutes, that it might be more than a movie about a couple that never should have lasted beyond than a one night stand. Then it’s right back to people shouting and throwing things and not splitting up, and you’re back to wondering why the world needs another one of these.
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Granted, they are an attractive couple, and we don’t just mean looks. Emmanuelle Bercot not undeservingly won Best Actress at the 2015 Cannes for playing Tony, a lawyer who can be bubbly and fun. She really only looks neurotic and buttoned-up when compared to Georgio (Vincent Cassel), the rakish restauranteur she spends a decade-plus fighting and f—king. She’s flattered someone so dashing would give her the time of day — an initial spark that never entirely burns out even after he’s proven, time and again, to be an infinitely grander thrill-seeker. Even when they’ve birthed a child, Georgio can’t resist the allure of drugs or exes, even getting a second apartment without telling her. Tony gets mad; they argue; she says never again. Then she takes him back and the movie resets, like a shrill version of “Run Lola Run” only with shouting instead of running.
Bercot and Cassel are ideal leads, too personable to be just another bad couple. She’s like a French Toni Collette, able to switch between effervescent and depressed on a dime. Cassel lends Georgio a boyishness that tempers the caddishness. When he does something bad, he looks like a cat sitting next to spilt milk. Thanks to them, you might be tempted to read the film as something more than yet another endless, nauseating spin on a relationship that only moves in circles. They even manage to lend more nuance and variety to a film whose director, Maiwenn (“Polisse”), seems to only want them to go to 11. Occasionally it looks too layered and flavorful to be written off as flat and overlong. But don’t be fooled.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge