‘The Trouble With You’ Struggles to Balance Crime and Comedy

“The Trouble With You” is an endearingly French stylized comedy featuring a strong cast but showcases romance that feels artificial and forced.

Still from the

Still from the “The Trouble with You” Pio Marmai and Adele Haenel (Courtesy of mk2 Films)

By Yaroslava Bondar, Staff Writer

After her husband, a police officer, is killed in the line of duty, Yvonne Santi (Adèle Haenel) learns that he was not the hero from the bedtime stories she tells her son. He was a corrupt cop. This realization throws Yvonne into a spiral of guilt, eventually leading her to Antoine (Pio Marmaï), an innocent man her husband sent to jail to cover up his own crimes. What follows is a crime romance in which Santi encounters escalating mishaps while trying to help Antoine get his past life back.

French director Pierre Salvadori’s “The Trouble With You” is an endearing, stylish comedy featuring a strong cast but bogged down by a contrived romance, making the crime caper a mixed bag. It was selected for the Directors’ Fortnight Section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and won the Lumières Award for best screenplay.

The film presents a story defined by excess, filled to the brim with deliberate absurdity and utter nonsense. The stylized, almost cartoonish violence and unconventional police work is reminiscent of past French detective comedies such as the “Taxi” franchise, but “The Trouble With You” differs in that its main focus is not its dynamic fight scenes and physical comedy, but the romantic and emotional entanglements of its protagonist.

The exaggerated accounts of law enforcement heroics are a recurring motif as visual manifestations of the bedtime stories Yvonne tells her son. The stories are continually modified as her attitude towards her late husband changes and evolves. Over the course of the film, these sequences scratch the surface of the juxtaposition between her and her son’s feelings about Yvonne’s late husband. Yet, except for the striking shots of police work, the emotional connection between Yvonne and her son remains largely unexplored.

Instead of exploring the impact of her discovery on those closest to her, the film focuses on Yvonne’s romantic endeavors with Antoine and her late husband’s colleague Louis (Damien Bonnard). Her relationship with Antoine especially evolves at a somewhat unbelievable pace, escalating from Yvonne tailing Antoine, to her saving his life, to him confessing his love for her.

This fast development is representative of the pace of the film. However, with its bold and loud yellow opening credits and a shot of a knife through an eye in the first three minutes, this technique can at times feel too overloaded with quirks, absurdist elements and plotlines that constantly merge and pile on top of each other. Thankfully, this is counterbalanced by grounded characters and engaging acting from the cast which smoothes out and instructs the manic silliness that occurs.

With somewhat cheesy lines such as “I’m not your love, I’m your worst enemy” and an ending scene that is somewhat reminiscent of “Grease,” the film is a light-hearted though occasionally too on-the-nose crime comedy. But, as Pierre Salvadori said in his welcome speech at the New York premiere, the film celebrates storytelling and belief in fiction, inviting you not just to laugh but to love and cry as well.

“The Trouble With You” is playing at The Film Society at Lincoln Center through March 10.

Email Yaroslava Bondar at [email protected]