Friday, July 28, 2006

Nos Jours Heureux

Nos Jours Heureux
Amidst a sea of Hollywood summer blockbusters, a little French movie is by far the best film I've seen all summer. Nos Jours Heureux (In english, Our Happy Days) is a funny, poignant and entertaining romp through French summer camp. The film explores the lives of the young campers and their counselors who have a little growing up to do themselves. Directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache have created a bildungsroman in the wilderness where the children experiment, explore and learn a great deal about themselves in the process. It was almost surreal how this camp resembled my experiences of going to camp every summer since the age of 8 then working there as a counselor. This film proved our old adage that "camp is for the counselors." The counselors - or "animateurs" - in Nos Jours Heureux complement each other perfectly and deliver an impressive ensemble performance. Jean-Paul Rouve plays the director of a three-week sleepover camp for kids whose ages range from pre-school to pre-adolescent. Hormones rage as love blossoms throughout the camp - I, in fact, have never seen 12-year olds make out so passionately, but, well, I guess there's a reason we call it the "French kiss." As the children grow up over the course of the summer, the "adults" taking care of them mature as well. The painfully shy Caroline, unable to express herself or, for that matter, form complete sentences, joins hunky playboy Daniel, portly camp nurse Nadine who shares a summer of lovin' with Joseph, a smiley black guy, and Truman, a frumpy Québequois whose accent I could not understand and, finally, Julie, an attractive Parisian who avoids responsibility and acts like she's on vacation. As the children go hiking, play sports and try to digest the food prepared by the amateur yet jovial Moroccan chef Mimoun, the counselors hook up (Daniel and Julie then Daniel and the horse-back riding girl then Daniel and Caroline then Julie and - well, I won't give it all away, but you get the idea). The children aren't much better, locking lips whenever their supervisors aren't looking, but their performances are impressive and I think that all moviegoers will be able to see a glimpse of themselves in many of the characters. Many of the scenes are quite humorous without being ridiculous or over-the-top and, when the bus rolled out of the camp towards the end of the film, I couldn't help but remember how I used to be so sad to say goodbye to the friends I'd made over the summer and the carefree days of not having to worry about anything at all. This is certainly among my favorite films - it's the perfect summer flick to escape the Parisian heat (the theater is air conditioned!) and return briefly to the insouciance of childhood.


Run Around Paris said...

This movie sounds great - hopefully Hollywood Video will be carrying it when it comes out on DVD.


Steph H. said...

Well I would love to see this film I went to camp with the co-directors in 1992, and was a camp counselor from Quebec who wore a funny ha--- wait a second!

I found out about this film a few months ago from some relatives in Paris, can't wait to see the fictionalized version of myself.

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