The Gazelles (Mona Achache, 2014)
Translated directly as “THE CHICKS”, even the title goes to show that the French manage to make everything sound better. But while The Gazelles is set in Paris, it shows a much less romantic view of the city than what we’ve come to expect.
Marie (Camille Chamoux) is struck with panic when she signs her life away for a mortgage with partner of fourteen years, Eric (Franck Gastambide). After meeting an old friend who seems to be truly living, she walks out on Eric, and into a raging party held by vivacious co-worker and single mother Sandra (Audrey Fleurot). Here Marie is welcomed into a new friendship group consisting of psychoanalyst Gwen (Anne Brochet), party girl Judith (Joséphine De Meaux), and the laidback Myriam (Naidra Ayadi). All have vastly different tastes in romantic partners, and make it their mission to teach Marie the rules of dating in your mid-30s. She starts with Martin (Samuel Benchetrit), an unbearable hipster, and is soon besotted due to her naivety. Luckily she has her new friends to guide her, but life still seems to go tits up as a result of her bold decision to leave her previous safe life.
Age-wise, The Gazelles is more in line with Sex & the City, but it shares a vibe more similar to that of Girls, though this time with a French sensibility. It is honest about singledom and the hook-up scene – it shows both the fun that can be had, but also the loneliness experienced. It also doesn’t suggest that long-term relationships are necessarily any better – both have their pros and cons. The film has a raw edge which makes it ring all the more true, and this is helped along by having an average looking protagonist at the helm. The film is based on Camille Chamoux’s one woman show and she has co-written the screenplay with director Mona Achache and Cécile Sallam. Whether currently single or not, most female viewers will be able to empathise with Chamoux’s Marie, and though she’s a flawed character, it’s difficult not to root for her. However, what we’re rooting for isn’t perhaps clear as the film doesn’t rely on the clichéd end goal of settling down with a man. Instead it celebrates the now and retains a sense of hope. With a super fun soundtrack accompanying it, The Gazelles will make you feel like you’ve had a great night out, until the credits roll and you realise you’re going home at 9pm on a Friday night. For the singles in the audience, this film may convince them to do otherwise.
The Gazelles is currently playing at the Alliance Française French Film Festival