Trois Hommes et un Couffin
(Three Men and a Baby)

Starring: Roland Giraud, Michel Boujenah and Andre Dusollier
Tartan Video
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 26 February 2007

When Jacques goes off on a trip he asks his two flatmates, Michel and Pierre, to look after a package for him. In the middle of a party and full of red wine the two readily agree. When they find a baby deposited on their doorstep by one of Jacques girlfriends the hapless two presume that this is the package that they are waiting for, which leads to a number of problems with local drug dealers who where expecting to pick up something else entirely. The boys soon discover that their care free libertine lifestyles have never involved either responsibility or babies. As they struggle to look after Marie, the bachelor's hearts melt and they fall in love with her. When the mother returns for the baby, the trio discover that they cannot go back to their bachelor ways...

Trois Hommes et un Couffin (1985) was directed by Coline Serreau who also provided the screenplay for the American adaptation Three Men and a Baby (1987) which starred Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson. The film won the Cesar Awards for best film, best writing and Michel Boujenah won for best supporting actor. It won a French Academy Award for the director and was nominated as best foreign film in the 1986 Oscars. The film was nominated for a further four awards.

Let's cut straight to the chase, most people at some point have seen Three Men and a Baby and if you thought that was good you're going to love this original version, which is superior in almost every sense. Where the American version went for schmaltz to explain the boys transformation, Trois Hommes uses the more realistic view that in order to keep Marie safe from both the drug dealers and the local police, their protective side comes to the fore. This opens up a chink in their emotional armour - after all these are three men who have a pact that no female will stay at their flat - and in the act of protecting the baby they open themselves to paternal feelings that even they didn't know they had.

The lead actors deliver Serreau's flawless script with great aplomb. Roland Giraud plays Pierre, the source of all his flatmates problems. The show, though, is really stolen by Michel Boujenah (Michel) and Andre Dussollier (Jacques) who are so hilarious as the hapless recipients of both the drugs and the baby that I'm surprised that they didn't go on to do a double act.

The movie is presented in anamorphic 16:9 and comes with little in the way of extras, having only the original theatrical trailer, though the PR blurb does promise an interview with Coline Serreau and behind the scenes featurettes with the cast. You have the option to watch the film with or without English subtitles, though even with my level of French you could tell that some of the more subtle nuances were missing in translation. The film print is nice and clean though a little grainy and it comes with a disappointing stereo soundtrack, though once again the PR blurb promised 5.1 and DTS. To be fair to the film, the review copy was obviously not anyway near the finished product and the problem with the grain on the film may be resolved in the final pressing.

In the end the film is a well acted comedy with an excellent cast and like I said, to my mind, far superior to its American remake. The relatively low score for such an excellent film reflects the lack of extras; though check on the back of the DVD to see if the promised extras turn up.

Charles Packer

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