© Weltkino Filmverleih GmbH

Ein Glücksfall (Coup de Chance)
U.S.A./France/U.K. 2023

Opening 11 Apr 2024

Directed by: Woody Allen
Writing credits: Woody Allen
Principal actors: Lou de Laâge, Niels Schneider, Anna Laik, Melvil Poupaud, Yannick Choirat

Stroke of Luck could be the English title of this charming French film, but there is no English title. Woody Allen has written and directed Coup de Chance in France with superb French actors and in French. Plan on reading the subtitles quickly as the French do seem to speak at a very fast clip. Or just gaze at their pretty faces in the oh so romantic Parisian streets, that works too. The love story is as old as time, but Allen makes it all so alluring and then, in a twist, spine-tingling.

Fanny (Lou de Laâge) is the stunning wife of Jean (Melvil Poupaud), a wealthy man with brooding dark looks and a big bankroll. Jean adoringly controls his wife and wants to show her off in high society, not so benevolently watching her squirm as his trophy wife. This is her second marriage—her first husband was a dud. Fanny’s worldly-wise mother Camille (Valérie Lemercier) lectures her daughter on how lucky she is to have a husband who treasures her so. At least at the beginning of the film.

By chance, chance is a running theme, Fanny meets her former classmate, the damn cute Alain (Niels Schneider) walking along a Parisian boulevard. He is the stereotypical bohemian writer who somehow can afford a cozy little flat not too far from the blue-chip auction house where Fanny works. And as expected the two fall in love. And the cozy flat (remarkably tidy for the scruffy writer) becomes even cozier.

But this is more than a clichéd French love story. Allen has hoisted some not-so-subtle red flags. Jean’s uppity friends at parties openly speculate how he has made his money, mentioning his business partner had suddenly disappeared with his body later washing up on distant shores. When Fanny asks her husband how he has made his fortune he obliquely explains he makes rich people richer.

Coup de Chance is Woody Allen’s fiftieth film, and his third romantic thriller; the first was Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and the second Match Point (2005). Allen’s love of jazz is widely publicized. The soundtrack including Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” adds uplifting glee throughout the film even in the darkest moments, somewhat reminiscent of Henry Mancini’s jaunty scores in the iconic Pink Panther films (1963 to 2009). The soundtrack induces levity mingling with nostalgia for a good, old-fashioned movie. Woody Allen has made a gem of film, and now at eighty-eight, maybe his last. Hopefully his audiences can delight in Coup de Chance and distinguish between the filmmaker and the man. (Pat Frickey)

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