Photo: ‘Stuck Together’
Exploring the Pandemic Through a Distinctly Parisian (Yet Ultimately Universal) Perspective
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one can only imagine the array of themes that will reach supremacy in the coming era of any genre. Part of this coming wave will be close-quarters, relaxing family flicks, like Dany Boon’s film, ‘Stuck Together’. This film delves into the mundanity of an apartment complex, and despite overwhelming ordinariness, the story due to the sweet and funny-enough cast of characters that comprise the large ensemble. An oft-cranky small business owner. A clan of slight (to extreme) hypochondriacs.
A cantankerous landlord and his family. A young, expecting influencer couple. An elusive scientist on the bottom floor. The set grows intricately upwards in – as is typical in Paris – Haussmann-style architecture. This allows them to peer onto one another in their respective apartments and creates an almost live theatrical structure. All of this contributes to visualizing the ever-present interactions between each of the groups, constantly impeding on one another due to being locked inside.
A Wide Ensemble of Eccentric but Familiar Characters
Dany Boon – who also serves as the director – plays Martin, the hypochondriac patriarch of what could be considered our core family unit in this story. He acts as our first and central vessel into the current pandemic climate, and a direct contrast to the brashness of his uncaring landlord, though they are similarly confrontational. In placing the characters at odds – highlighting the natural conflict within all of us – Boon reminds us of the best and worst of humanity.
Though, since the pandemic, much of our personal relationships have been strained, and the backburner qualities common to the human condition have become glaringly obvious. Beyond that, this film transplants typical family-drama clichés and gathers them next to one another, creating stark comparisons between each of the groups, characters, and their desires. However, some portrayals can lean too caricature-like at times – most notably, Martin – and lose their relatability, and it leaves many ideas feeling teased at but unexplored through the ensuing narrative.
There is so much about ‘Stuck Together’ that I like. Each of the characters is unique and easily distinguishable. As we drift in and out of their lives, the issues and tendencies that have become universal to all of us over the past two years ring true: COVID-19 debates, social distancing, or unknowingly coming into contact with a sick person. The performances are strong, which is perfect for a character- and chemistry-ridden film like this. For such a serious subject as a global, deadly sickness, the tone is casual; comfortable. While some scenes overstayed their welcome, dragging out jokes that grew trite and less resonant, a diamond core of tender realism and lightheartedness is the heart of consistency worth appreciating.
The contrasts between groups, while blatant, can still be quite smart; while the landlord and his family struggle to grasp the basics of grammar, Martin and his family joyously sing the multiplication table. Their values are about as far from one another on the spectrum as a comedy built on these pods of conflict, but even then, there is a ripe commentary to be found in the interactions between unit members as well. Their varying positions in the apartment complex act as a succinct representation of the collective discourse surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic since it began in early 2020. With many different perspectives neatly represented – property and business owners, renters, scientists, uneducated citizens – ‘Stuck Together’ feels like a resonant reflection of the people we’ve only recently gotten to know in the wake of a brand new sociocultural environment.
The new and unavoidable responsibility of separating work and home life – whether it be with spouses, children, or neighbors – is briefly explored, along with a raw bundle of neuroses over contagion and transmission. Co-writer and star Laurence Arné give a cornerstone performance, providing a likable straight-man to her husband-gone-paranoid and one of the most realistic characters in the movie. François Damien plays the landlord that you love to hate, constantly demonstrating a lack of empathy towards his renters and the world at large. Everyone in this cast was able to uncover the softcore of their character, and in turn, this sometimes slow-paced experience is markedly more fun to watch.
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What’s unfortunate about ‘Stuck Together’ is the shelf-life. While COVID-19 is undoubtedly seared into the modern zeitgeist, this film has a distinct ‘inside-joke’ sort of tone about the pandemic. I’m skeptical over how long audiences will want to relive the strange spirit of the lockdown-era, and whether this work has the means to stand the test of time in what is sure to become a saturated genre.
‘Stuck Together’ – A Feel-Good Movie About Feel-Bad Times
What’s unfortunate about ‘Stuck Together’ is the shelf-life. While COVID-19 is undoubtedly seared into the modern zeitgeist, this film has a distinct ‘inside-joke’ sort of tone about the pandemic. I’m skeptical over how long audiences will want to relive the strange spirit of the lockdown-era, and whether this work has the means to stand the test of time in what is sure to become a saturated genre. Ultimately, this is a cute film to check out if you aren’t already tired of joking about COVID-19, and while sometimes banal, there is an intrinsic comfort in this sort of schticky drama.
Audiences can look for more from director and star Dany Boon in a film titled ‘Une belle course’, directed by Christian Carion. Needless to say, this film definitely made me want to check out more casual French Cinema, as well as realize the underlying humor in universality of this unprecedented world environment.
I’ll leave you with the clear but concise words of Agathe:
“Pandemic, pandemic, you’re no friend of mine
Pandemic, Pandemic, go away from here.”
Cast: Dany Boon, Yvan Attal, Liliane Rovère, François Damiens, Laurence Arné
Director: Dany Boon | Writer(s): Laurence Arné and Dany Boon | Editor: Hervé de Luze | Cinematographer: Glynn Speeckaert |
By Grace Smith
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Grace Smith is a film critic and writer with 21 years of formative film exposure under her belt – and a focused interest in horror, surrealism, and substantial Cinema. Grace is passionate about The Hollywood Insider’s mission towards thoughtful and innovative media that expands audience perspectives towards entertainment. As a young writer and film-lover, Grace hopes to inspire readers towards not only broadening their horizons when it comes to cinematic media, but also raising their expectations.