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French Films…that don’t suck: “Le Nom des Gens”

** Breaking News ** This film has just received four nominations for the Césars (the French Film Awards).

This is a touching French romantic comedy that explores issues of identity through its two main characters, a straitlaced, moderate Frenchman named Arthur Martin, and an eccentric, sexually adventurous and politically militant Franco-Algerian woman named Bahia Benmahmoud.

Surprisingly, they come together through their differences, including the skeletons in their parents’ closets that have affected their own lives very deeply. This could be a sad film, or an absurd film, considering there are some very heavy issues like the Holocaust and the Algerian War, but the director does a brilliant job of keeping it light while avoiding the usual slapstick clichés regarding intercultural relationships.

Needless to say, the acting is also superb (Sara Forestier will surely win awards for this, and not just because she walks into the metro wearing nothing but her pink boots). The dinner scene with all four parents is worth watching twice, and the cameo by Lionel Jospin is priceless. The movie debuted in Cannes in May, and will be released in the US under the name, “The Names of Love” (beware of the bad subtitles…there are too many French cultural references to translate well).

Le Nom des Gens (2010)
Directed by Michel Leclerc


Jacques Gamblin (Arthur Martin)

Sara Forestier (Bahia Benmahmoud)

Zinedine Soualem (Mohamed Benhmamoud)

Carole Franck (Cécile Benmahmoud)

Jacques Boudet (Lucien Martin)

Michèle Moretti (Annette Martin)



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