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aka - Eyjafjallajokull
France 2013
Directed by
Alexandre Coffre
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

The Volcano

Synopsis:  A divorced couple (Dany Boon and Valerie Bonneton) who hate each other’s guts  are forced to take a road trip to Greece together to be at their daughter’s wedding after the 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano grounds their flight.

Apparently this film was a box office hit in France. Even making generous allowances for the specifics of national humour it is impossible to see why.   Wedding the time-honoured formula of the screw-ball comedy à la His Girl Friday to the road trip premise of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Volcano is painfully contrived and mind-numbingly witless.

From the clumsy opening scene which is designed to establish the virulent hatred of divorced couple Alain (Boon) and Valerie (Bonneton) the script is jaw-droppingly off-the-mark and the performances by the leads entirely of a piece with it. As comedy The Volcano is lame material delivered with inept timing. There is really nothing else to recommend it.

From Cukor’s classic marital stoush, Adam’s Rib, to the Coen’s not-so-classic Intolerable Cruelty the battle of the sexes has long been a rich source of comedy. Remarkably, writer-director Alexandre Coffre and co-writers Laurent Zeitoun and Yoann Gromb fail to turn up anything of value in this territory. For most of the running time their film simply suffers from a lack of credibility, either in terms of motivation or plotting. There are a couple of moments which briefly engender a wan smile, one involving a psychopath (Denis Menochet) in a camper van decked out like a chapel and another involving an Albanian eagle but mostly the film is a series of predictable physical gags and mutual verbal abuse. The inevitable resolution is entirely pedestrian in its sentimentality.

Somewhat incongruously, the production values are high. The bigger stunts, one involving the destruction of a Porsche, another a light plane crash are impressively handled and the film has a high-tone, widescreen presentation that the material simply doesn’t warrant. 

Films this maladroit are rarely seen, that they would find a willing audience even in their homeland beggars belief.




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