The Gathr Preview Series continued with Le Prénom, a French film originally released in 2012, and is the screen adaptation of a stage play with the same name. The subtitled version being shown in the USA is called “What’s in a Name?” The live theater origins of this movie are immediately clear as almost the entire film takes place on a single set. In a style that will be familiar to many fans of the TV series Seinfeld, the dialogue intense comedy unfolds in the apartment of a family that is hosting a small dinner party. The story moves quickly and takes a few unexpected turns, keeping the audience fully engaged, and does not disappoint as you await the next funny exchange. While this film elicits many laughs, it straddles the line between comedy and dark comedy after one of the character’s practical jokes threatens the bonds between a group of siblings, their spouses and friend. The film makers also stayed true to the movie’s live theater heritage by relying on strong performances of the cast instead of special effects or camera tricks.
Unfortunately, watching this movie was as much work as it was fun. The fast paced back and forth banter between the actors results in subtitles that move very quickly and require the English speaking audience to focus their attention on the bottom of the screen for a significant amount of time. I rarely prefer watching a foreign film that has been over-dubbed, but in this case it might make the movie more enjoyable.