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FILMS Belgium

Review: Troisièmes noces

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- David Lambert tells another story about a couple that should never have got together, delivering a comedy-drama on bereavement, cohabitation and passing things on

Review: Troisièmes noces
Rachel Mwanza and Bouli Lanners in Troisièmes noces

Troisièmes noces [+see also:
trailer
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
, a comedy-drama telling the story of a colourful sham marriage between a widowed and whimsical homosexual man and a young, undocumented Congolese woman, is the third feature by Belgian filmmaker David Lambert. Lambert has thus opted for quite a major change in tone after his first two movies, which made quite a splash: Beyond the Walls [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
, selected in the Critics’ Week; and All Yours [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
, which took part in Karlovy Vary.

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Martin has just buried Jan, who was the love of his life, but also his rock, his backbone. He’s lost without him. Now that he’s gone, he doesn’t know how he’ll be able to hang on to their house, their oasis of peace and love. So when a colleague suggests he try an unusual financial deal that may provide a solution, he reluctantly agrees. And so, one fine day, the young and plainspoken Tamara makes an appearance – the Congolese woman has arrived illegally in Belgium, and his colleague is head over heels in love with her.

Martin and Tamara, who have virtually nothing in common, will enter into a marriage of convenience and will have to live together, much to their chagrin. Martin’s house becomes the theatre of a minor battle for territory, where each party simultaneously tries to retain some privacy and lay bare their own vision of the couple. Suffice it to say that the Belgian authorities take a dim view of this unlikely marriage, and the two partners will have to act out the farce again and again.

With Troisièmes noces, Lambert fleshes out a situation that was already at the core of his two previous films: the face-off between two human beings who are polar opposites, and who will have to learn to live together. But this time, the director adopts a different tone. While Beyond the Walls and All Yours did offer a few comic breathers peppered throughout their dramatic stories, Troisièmes noces is a tender and dramatic comedy, which goes out on a limb and laughs at something that is often not funny in the slightest. It’s a comedy that chooses to believe that we all get a second chance.

Along the way, and quite unexpectedly, Troisièmes noces succeeds in offering Tamara, who is deprived of a Belgian identity, a believable identity as a character by surpassing the migrant stereotype. The film is committed to using fiction to address important, timely societal issues by giving them depth and substance, without placing them at the centre of the discussion, but rather by tackling them side-on, almost implicitly.

To carry these characters, Lambert has opted for the sheer spontaneity of Rachel Mwanza, a young Congolese actress who rose to fame in War Witch a few years ago. She is paired with Bouli Lanners in a totally new role for the Walloon thesp, that of a rather grumpy old set designer, a fickle but grieving homosexual who is trying to survive and give his life some meaning.

Troisièmes noces was produced by Frakas Production, which also staged the first two features by the director, in co-production with Bidibul Productions (Luxembourg) and Ema Films (Canada). It is being distributed in Belgium by O'Brother Distribution and sold abroad by Canadian company Filmoption International.

(Translated from French)

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