Saturday, February 09, 2013

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #29--....And They Lived Happily Ever After (2004)

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details.]

Love, Marriage, and All the Rest of It
...And They Lived Happily Ever After (known in France as Ils se marierent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants) explores the complexities of relationships between men and women. Focused on three buddies, the story introduces several characters--some happily married, some not so much, some who cheat, and some who spend all day screaming at each other but are still in love at the end of it. Writer/Director Yvan Attal stars with his wife Charlotte Gainsbourg as Vincent and Gabrielle, a seemingly happy couple with a young son (Ben Attal). While their friends consider their union golden, no one is immune to problems or temptation. Vincent is torn between two lives, while Gabrielle fantasizes about living a different life with a stranger. The Hollywood endings I grew up on don't really exist, do they?

Where's Johnny?
Johnny Depp makes a "special appearance" in this movie, but it's really a two-scene cameo during which he barely says anything. Despite Johnny's involvement, I couldn't find this movie right away! I had to wait for the DVD, which I think was released in the U.S. a few years after it was made. When I finally saw the film, I didn't like it much: Almost everyone is in a sad situation, arguing, suspecting, accusing, and cheating on each other. 

But then Johnny brings in some sunshine. He is Gabrielle's mysterious stranger. 

Yvan Attal sent his script for ...And They Lived Happily Ever After to Johnny, asking him to be in it. "I wanted to write more because I really like him as an actor," he says. "I felt ridiculous to give him these two ridiculous scenes." It being his first film, the director was shocked that Johnny invited him to his home in France for dinner to discuss the role. They bonded within 10 minutes and spent the night talking about all sorts things well beyond movies. 

I was really excited that Charlotte Gainsbourg was in this movie. At the time, she had just impressed me in The Science of Sleep. I also knew that her father, legendary French artist Serge Gainsbourg, collaborated on an album with Johnny's partner Vanessa Paradis in 1990, and he meant a lot to both of them.

Emmanuel Seigner, who costarred with Johnny in The Ninth Gate, is also in this movie. (Yeah, the flying demon lady with mismatched socks!) Funnily, I didn't recognize her the first time I watched this film. Clearly, I was only focused on looking for the American back then.  

Wait, what's this about? 
While watching this movie again for Johnny Kitties, I found it really fascinating! Yvan Attal was inspired to write this film after walking his son to school and realizing that most of the other parents were divorced. "A few years ago, they swear their love for each other, and then they made a child. Then, suddenly, bang! Two years after, so many parents were divorced," he describes. "I started to think about that, and that's the way this project arrived in my mind." 

This movie depicts relationships so realistically. It cleverly catches all stages and perspectives: You could be madly in love. Or, you may have a huge end-of-the-world fight one morning but fall back into your routines by nighttime. You might feel bored with your partner right now but suddenly be reminded in a moment of the great love you once felt for each other. You could be in love with two people at the same time for different reasons. Or, maybe you've been married for so long and are so comfortable that most communication can be left unsaid. "It's always difficult to live with somebody," Yvan Attal explains. "It's not, 'everything is great and happily ever after.'" While many people found this view to be pessimistic and sad, I loved that this film showed the good and the bad. It's real, refreshing, and makes you think. 

I can relate. 
Of Johnny's two scenes in this movie, the first one is the best. One afternoon, Gabrielle (Lily, who has the perfect eyes for this role) browses in a Virgin Megastore. While tuned into "Creep" by Radiohead at one of the store's listening stations, Johnny--walking up behind her--comes into focus. Like her, he slips on headphones and listens to the song. And, with this fantastic tune blasting in their ears, these strangers are awkwardly polite and friendly, making quick eye contact and unsure of where else to look. But, Gabrielle catches a moment when he's not paying attention and takes full advantage to stare.

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #29--...And They Lived Happily Ever After (2004) [October 16, 2012]

When I first saw this moment, the look on her face made me laugh out loud because that's what I would do in that situation! (Of course, Charlotte Gainsbourg is much calmer and more serene here than I ever could be.) When he leaves, she watches till he disappears into the crowd, panics, and even gets clumsy too. I mean, that's me up there! 

I'd tell you the rest of it, but why ruin a special appearance? Rent ...And They Lived Happily Ever After and enjoy some Frenchness with an excellent soundtrack. 

What's Next? 
Johnny portrays Scottish writer J.M. Barrie, as he creates his beloved story and everlasting character "Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" in Finding Neverland.

All film images © Pathe; Kino International Corporation, et. al.; Melissa's Kitties illustration © Melissa Connolly

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