Nothing to Hide follows a dinner party of seven old friends, uncovering the hidden truths they’ve never discussed.
Nothing to Hide (M, 90 mins) streaming on Netflix, in French with English subtitles
Directed by Fred Cavayé
Sit back and relax for a deft little movie that could easily be a stage play, featuring seven characters at a dinner party. While all seven know a great deal about each other, their private lives have never been in focus before now and many surprises are ahead.
Nothing binds the characters except their old friendship, no business connections, no kids who go to the same school and, although there’s a small but brilliant part for a rebellious daughter Margot (Fleur Fitoussi), there’s no back story.
Two of the three couples have been married for years, in apparently stable relationships.
The seventh character, Ben (an excellently deadpan Grégory Gadebois), is in a new relationship, but his partner is absent from the dinner, for reasons essential to the storyline.
Psychiatrist Marie (Bérénice Bejo) is married to plastic surgeon Vincent (Stephane de Groodt) and their apartment is the setting for the dinner party. In an early hint at what’s to come, they display the rifts in their marriage.
It’s all too good to be true for glamorous lovebirds Léa (Doria Tillier, looking so willowy she might be about to leap into a grand jeté at any time) and Thomas (Vincent Elbaz).
Sure enough, an unravelling is imminent when, to spice up the dinner, Marie suggests a game where everyone puts their phones in the centre of the table; any messages, emails or calls received on anyone’s phone would have to be shared with everyone else.
As the game progresses, more truths are revealed, leading to some challenging and ultimately shattering developments.
The characters arrive feeling confident – what could go wrong at a dinner party with Vincent’s many courses of delicious food? – but each call makes public what has been secret until now and the characters’ ways of coping with the changing context of their lives are fascinating.
The final twist, the ultimate hidden truth, involves a rare lunar eclipse, to which selfie-stick shots during the evening have been building up.
The shots, of the friends out on the balcony while the eclipse goes on behind them, show them focusing on themselves, fittingly not noticing as the eclipse moves slowly out of the light into the darkness.
Starting its life as the Italian film Perfect Strangers, directed by Paolo Genovese, the film has been remade not only in France but also in Spain, Mexico, Greece and Turkey, and the Weinsteins optioned it a few years ago.
Just as well it wasn’t remade by them, given the overstatement and loss of essential European character that often happens when Hollywood takes over.
The script of the French version, co-written by director Fred Cavayé, is light-hearted and just witty enough to appear completely natural.
While not laugh-out-loud funny, the movie is rather droll. It tells us a great deal about ourselves and does it as the French do it best: with a patient shrug that says “C’est la vie”.
Movies are rated: Avoid, Recommended, Highly Recommended and Must See.
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