#TIFF23: “A DIFFICULT YEAR” REVIEW
By George Kozera
A DIFFICULT YEAR opens with a series of televised clips, spanning decades, where French government officials warn the citizens of France that they will be facing a difficult year. The audience then is thrown into a frantic “Black Friday’ sales event at a store where shoppers stampede over each other in a frenzied attempt to score a big screen TV or air fryer at affordable prices. We see Albert (Pio Marmai) get one of the last televisions, then arrive at the home of Bruno (Jonathan Cohen) who was to pay for the TV. Instead, Albert arrives to see creditors removing everything from Bruno’s home as he staggers to the bedroom and passes out due to a lacklustre suicide attempt. Albert and Bruno are compulsive consumers, deeply in debt, and as they await to see if a debt-reduction expert (Matthieu Amalric) can help them to have the government forgive their overwhelming backlog of money owed, the two men go to a meeting held by young environmental activists, where free beer and food (repurposed snacks that expired years ago) is offered. It’s an idealistic group with big dreams and the two men are bemused, but when Albert sees group leader (Noemie Merlant), he immediately is smitten and convinces Bruno to tag along with him and join the group.
Whereas comedies from France tend to be simplistic, the French filmmakers excel at satire and social commentary. Writers/directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache succinctly and successfully tackle a variety of topics with panache and loads of humour. A DIFFICULT YEAR shines.
A DIFFICULT YEAR screens at TIFF ’23:
Wednesday. September 13, 9:30PM, Princess of Wales Theatre
Thursday, September 14, 5:30PM, Scotiabank