Love Songs for Tough Guys, original French title Cette musique ne joue pour personne, is a French comedy from director Samuel Benchetrit (I always wanted to be a Gangster, SFF 2008). Starring François Damiens, Vanessa Paradis and Ramzy Bedia among others, the film tells the story of a bunch of ageing gang members who are finding their softer sides but struggling to suppress their angry, occasionally violent sides.
There are nods to Cyarno de Bergerac in Love Songs for Tough Guys. Jeff’s henchman, played by Ramzy Bedia. forced to deliver poems to a young supermarket cashier named Roxane for whom Jeff (François Damiens) has written them. Throughout the film, the poems are delivered while she is on shift and are met with an exasperated Roxane who neither understands the handwriting or the sense of the words written in them. Not the best way to woo someone!
Vanessa Paradis (married to director Samuel Benchetrit in real life) is brilliant, as always, in her role of Suzanne. This time she plays a singer who is about to perform in a truly absurd musical about Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre? When she’s not in character, she has a bad stutter, when in character she is poised and confident.
She crosses paths with, and inevitably changes, Jacky (Gustave Kervern), when he meets her, having gone to rough up her partner, an accountant who owes Jeff money. In the most unlikely of circumstances Jacky develops a strong crush on Suzanne and worms his way into being with her at rehearsals.
In the background to these softening, once hardened men, we see a young gang trying to take over their turf. There’s the overlooked wife of Jacky (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) – who sits at home watching reality TV in her track pants. The teenaged daughter of a gang boss with no friends and Dad’s enforcers trying to force people to come to her party.
Love Songs for Tough Guys was a thoroughly enjoyable comedic journey into the lives of men finding their softer sides and a joy to watch.
Love Songs for Tough Guys screening and ticket information
There is one screening remaining of Love Songs for Tough Guys at Sydney Film Festival: Sunday 14 November at 12:45pm at the State Theatre. You can purchase your tickets via this link:
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