8:00 PM, 31st October, 2013
A French farce of the highest order, Le prénom couples a strong script, oozing vibrant wit, with a cast of first rate performers. The film was written and directed by Alexandre de LaPatellière and Matthieu Delaporte, and was originally conceived as a play by the same authors. The actors, too, return to the piece having spent years on the stage practicing their lines for the film.
Vincent and Anna (Bruel and El Zein) are about to become first-time parents. At a family dinner with Vincent’s sister, brother-in-law Pierre (Berling) and family friend Claude (de Tonquedec), Vincent announces the name of their child-to-be… and it doesn’t go down so well.
Outraged by the chosen name, the family is in shock, Pierre particularly going on the offensive. As the night wears on, deeper truths emerge about the characters and the fierce argument brings to light the cracks in the group.
The limited scene changes, theatrical origins and middle-class setting beg the comparison between What’s In A Name and Roman Polanski’s Carnage. There are similarities undoubtedly, but where Carnage is a searing satirical deconstruction of social convention, What’s In A Name is more… well, fun.
The premise of the film is a little silly, but the actors sell the scene well enough to draw the audience in to keep listening. As the conversations unfold, they ultimately reach a more optimistic place than that of Carnage. Overall, the film is pleasant to watch.