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I Am Not an Easy Man
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Am Not an Easy Man is a French film, which can be viewed either with English subtitles or "dubbed" (translated) into English. In this outrageously funny film, the unspoken rules of a male-dominant society go completely topsy-turvy when a man sustains a head hit from a street sign. He comes around in a world where women have all the power and prerogatives formerly held by men. All aspects of life are explored: jobs, fashion, sex, familial roles, attitudes. The central character's incredulity highlights the differences between this fantasy and life as we currently know it. Expect lots of sexual content: partial nudity (breasts, buttocks), oral sex, intercourse, most of it with a humorous or, at least ironic, eye. Language is coarse (i.e., "f--k," "balls," "fatherf--ker," "bone-o-meter," "d--k,), sexist, and often demeaning to men in keeping with the premise. Characters drink in numerous scenes, sometimes heavily; drugs ("shrooms") are mentioned. The movie includes a scuffle between women; a hard slap, and a head-butt between lovers. It's important to note that the original French version has an accompanying narration that doesn't appear in the dubbed version and remains untranslated in the subtitled version. While it may, indeed, be an enhancing device, both versions for English-speaking audiences work just fine without that narration. A very funny, often biting satire for grown-ups only.
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What's the story?
Parisian Damien (Vincent Elbaz) is the consummate chauvinist-womanizer when I AM NOT AN EASY MAN OPENS. Good-looking, a savvy business man, he's just arrogant enough to be obnoxious. Sadly for him, a forceful bump on the head results in his waking up in a world in which gender roles have been reversed to the max. Woman rule all; men submit. Women flirt; men endure. Before he realizes the extent of the change in this new world, Damien is fired from his job, antagonizes his best friend's cheeky wife, and strikes out with his newest sexual conquest. The emotional and physical assaults keep coming. His parents are no help; his dad is very disappointed that he hasn't yet delivered the grandchildren the older man so desperately wants. Alexandra (Marie-Sophie Ferdane), his new boss, a popular novelist with writer's block, is demanding, sexually aggressive, and makes what might have been a decent workplace untenable. But Damien isn't about to accept this new status quo. Instead, he aligns himself with a group of "masculinists," men who are trying to speak truth to the powerful women that torment them and rule their lives. But those masculinists are an ineffectual lot. It's only when he and Alexandra begin a sexual relationship that Damien becomes aware of just how terrifying his future may be.
Is it any good?
French director Eleonore Pourriat has assembled a talented cast and works with a sharp script to deliver a delicious spoof of social exploration, with hearty laughs and often painful truths. Stereotyping abounds, but it's meant to. Watch carefully lest you miss some of the film's most incisive moments. The attention to the smallest detail -- in a poker game a pair of queens beats two kings -- enhances the countless observations that bring the message home. Special kudos to Pierre Benezit as Christophe, Damien's BFF, for a nuanced, truly wonderful performance. Over the top at times, subtle when it needs to be, I Am Not an Easy Man refuses to indulge sentiment with a typical happy ending. No matter how obvious the lessons, some heroes (or anti-heroes) never do wake up. Highly recommended for mature audiences with just enough of a jaded sense of humor to find this comedy, which doubles as a sexual farce, irresistible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how significant ideas can sometimes be delivered in an all-out comedy. I Am Not an Easy Man has many hilarious moments and jokes, but under the humor are some serious notions about male-female relationships. What are these notions? Did you find them funny, ironic, or sad -- or a combination of all three?
How did you feel about the movie's ending? Were you surprised by it? How did you think the movie would end? What, if anything, did Damien learn from his journey?
Many English-speaking movie-goers avoid foreign-language films and miss out on some very special experiences. What are your favorite foreign films? What are some benefits of seeing movies created by people of different cultures?
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