From left: Guy Bedos, Pierre Richard, Jane Fonda, Claude Rich and Geraldine… (Handout )
Septuagenarians give communal living a go in "All Together," a comedy that manages to avoid many of the predictable pitfalls and pratfalls that such a scenario suggests. Until it surrenders to them.
The feature involves five longtime friends with a shared history of leftist politics, and features Jane Fonda's return to French movies after 40 years. Writer-director Stéphane Robelin's setup, and the unsentimental performances, promise something tougher than the usual twinkly eyed-oldsters routine.
The film opens with a nice bit in which Jean (Guy Bedos) is none too pleased that he wasn't arrested at a demonstration. His collectivist ideals lead him to suggest that his friends — another couple and bachelor Claude (Claude Rich) — move into his and Annie's (Geraldine Chaplin) huge, empty-nest home.
But it's the realities of fading health, not utopian dreams, that spur the others to accept the invitation. For her part, Annie is not eager to be "going all hippie."
Jeanne (Fonda), a former philosophy professor whose husband (Pierre Richard) is losing his memory, is inspired by the youth and assumed intellect of the anthropology student (Daniel Brühl) who's hired to help around the house. His thesis focuses an ethnographic lens on the characters — one that's squandered as Robelin pushes the story into increasingly ordinary territory.
It's too bad the filmmaker felt the need to lighten his unvarnished observations about aging with "cute" stuff. Has there ever been a worthwhile payoff from the introduction of Viagra to a plot line?
"All Together." No MPAA rating; in French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino; some screenings at Laemmle's Monica 4-plex, Santa Monica.