Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!] Sunday, 10/19/2008, 7:30 PM Feature presentation, $10 at Lincoln Theatre
IMAGINE THE RELIEF: after 33 years you’ve finally come out to your parents and you’re safe and sound back on the train to your great apartment in Paris where your hunky boyfriend awaits. But what’s happening behind the closed door you shut at your dear old mom and dad’s house when you left?
Times Have Been Better takes a peek behind that door to reveal both the humor and the angst experienced by liberal parents who suddenly don’t feel so liberal when their son comes out. Rosine (Charlotte de Turckheim) is the ditzy, pill-popping mother who loves her son (Arnaud Binard) but can’t reconcile that he puts the gay in ”gay Paree.” Guy (Bernard Le Coq) has a typical father’s reaction — it’s all about the sex and he can’t get past the question of whether or not his son is a bottom. Caught in the middle of the mix is directionless son Robin (Olivier Guéritée), who thinks this might be his chance to outshine his brother’s shadow. Before the end, everything has to be rebuilt.
Times Have Been Better is wonderfully funny and sweet, and its painful moments are raw and true. De Turckheim and Le Coq give great performances and are the main reason the film works — they can be both funny and wounded simultaneously. In supporting roles, Franck de la Personne as Rosine’s gay coworker, and Chantal Ladesou as her best friend are larger than life characters who serve as foils — needed vessels of comic relief who also speak the truth. It’s a wonderful balance that evens out the film.
All the performers shine thanks to Nicolas Mercier’s carefully crafted script, which captures the oh-so-true reactions that many parents experience when a child comes out. Bringing it all together, director Régis Musset creates a highly polished film with fantastic production values. From the sets to the casting, it all adds up to a wonderful whole. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love it.
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