We open on a door. Within the first few minutes, we are treated to explosions, gunfire and fight scenes, all before revealing that the excitement we are witnessing is a bedtime story for a young boy. As we learn, these stories are regularly told by widowed detective Yvonne (Adele Haenel) to her son Theo (Octave Bossuet), who idolises his late father, and the star of these bedtime stories, Santi (Vincent Elbaz), who died in the line of duty two years ago. Yvonne is now a desk jockey, no longer allowed to join in on the action. She plays her role as the widow of the late hero cop, forced to watch from the side-lines as her colleague, Louis (Damien Bonnard) raids an S&M brothel. However, this raid leads to the revelation that Santi was, in fact, a corrupt cop. We learn from Santi’s gimp-costumed (former) co-conspirator, that he took a cut from a jewellery store robbery, which includes Yvonne’s wedding ring.
Although she desperately wants to make amends, Yvonne is stopped by Louis, who reminds her of Theo’s idolisation of his father, and how much it would hurt him to learn the truth, just as he is beginning to move on from his father’s death. Instead, Yvonne begins following the newly released victim of Santi’s crimes, Antoine (Pio Marmai), who was wrongly convicted eight years ago and has been recently released from prison. It turns out that prison has definitely changed Antoine from a sweet you man, to a confused and deranged individual. Antoine is determined to make his false conviction a reality (“better a bastard than a victim”) and will employ violence whenever he feels it’s necessary.
From here the film, a “dramedy” by way of screwball romance, leans into the latter, with a love triangle of sorts quickly forming between Yvonne, Louis and Antoine. The performances here are strong, with Haenel’s performance as Yvonne capturing the varying conflicting emotions at play. Marmai, likewise, delivers a comically erratic performance as Antoine, somehow gaining sympathy despite the extremely violent acts he doles out on those that cross his path. Louis and Antoine’s patient wife, Agnes (Audrey Tautou), who does her best to adapt to the drastically changed Antoine.
Those exaggerated, action-packed bedtime stories reflect Yvonne’s increasing disillusionment with her late husband, as she grapples with her understanding of the man she had loved. They become increasingly farcical, along with the film itself; a personal favourite of mine was the story Santi getting repeatedly punched in the face, much to Theo’s disappointment. Unfortunately, the film becomes a bit too overcomplicated for its own good, getting tangled up in its various subplots, with little direction to guide them. That said, director Pierre Salvadori’s manages to tie a neat bow on everything by the film’s end, although it’s still not a perfect solution. Credit also goes to cinematographer Julien Poupard, who takes clear delight in the action sequences in the bedtime stories, and Camille Bazbaz’s entertaining score. At the end of the day, The Trouble With You is an entertaining film that doesn’t quite make the most of its parts, yet makes me curious to look in to Pierre Salvadori’s other films.