happily ever after (Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 6, 2010 by  

“happily ever after” is a fantastic film featuring strong performances from Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the other talent in this film. The writing and cinematography (especially the music) are well-done. And I know the film goes against the trend of a romantic comedy and deals with the concept of marriage and the difficulties, but not every romance ends in a fairy tale, nor does every couple live happily ever after.

Images courtesy of © 2005 Kino International Corp. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: happily ever after


DURATION: 105 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 letterboxed, French with optional English subtitles

COMPANY: Pathe!/Kino Video



Written and Directed by Yvan Attal

Produced by Claude Berri

Executive Produced by Salim Fassi Fihri, Pierre Grunstein, Nathalie Rheims

Music by Brad Mehldau

Cinematography by Remy Chevrin

Edited by Jennifer Auge

Casting by Noureddine Aberdine, Antoinette Boulat, Laurent Soulet

Production Design by Katia Wyszkop

Art Direction by Alexandra Lassen

Set Decoration by Sandrine Mauvezin

Costume Design by Jacqueline Bouchard


Johnny Depp as L’inconnu

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Gabrielle

Sebastien Vidal as Thibault

Yvan Attal as Vincent

Chloe Combret as Chloe

Christiane Oui-Oui as La femme de chambre

Alain Cohen as Fred

Carolina Gynning as Zoe

Alain Chabat as Georges

Ben Attal as Joseph

Emmanuelle Seigner as Nathalie

Kitu Gidwani as Mme Gibson

Sujay Sood as M. Gibson

Ruben Marx as Antoine

Writer-director Yvan Attal (My Wife is an Actress) takes a “funny, observant, evanescent approach to the mysteries of human desire” (Jami Bernard, NY DAILY NEWS) in Happily Ever After, a bittersweet comedy about the battle of the married sexes. Starring Attal and real-life amour Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams), Happily Ever After uncovers a web of marital deceit and sexual combustion connecting a handful of Parisian friends, spouses and lovers.

Though to all appearances happily married parents, Vincent and Gabrielle (Attal and Gainsbourg) both harbor secret doubts about their monogamy. Despairing of the cynicism of his hen-pecked married co-worker George (Alain Chabat), and envious of the joie de vivre of his swinging single friend Fred (Alain Cohen), Vincent weighs the risks involved in both keeping himself satisfied and his marriage intact. Sensitive but independent Gabrielle, in turn, feels helpless over her partner’s increasing evasiveness and is drawn in to her own burgeoning fantasy life. But when she makes a surprising and powerful connection with a handsome stranger in a record store (“Yes… that’s Johnny Depp!” – Paul Sherman, Boston Herald), Gabrielle stops speculating about Vincent’s loyalty and begins to consider an affair of her own.

Happily Ever After‘s able cast features Emmanuelle Seigner (Bitter Moon) and memorable cameos by Anouk Aimée (A Man and a Woman) and director Claude Berri. Balancing realistic characters with bravura widescreen camerawork, and enlivened by a playful and smart pop soundtrack, Happily Ever After gives exuberant new life to the age old dilemmas surrounding love, marriage, and fidelity.

A sexually-charged film that is humorous, witty, slick and cool!

In 2004, actor Yvan Attal (“Rush Hour 3”, “Munich”, “The Interpreter”) had tremendous success with writing and directing his first film “Ma femme est une actrice” (2001, My Wife Is an Actress) and in 2004, he reunited with his real-life partner Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Antichrist”, “21 Grams”, “The Tree”) for his second film which he wrote and directed titled “Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” (US Title: happily ever after) which would feature a cameo appearance by Johnny Depp and would star Sebastien Vidal, Chloe Combret, Alain Cohen, Caroline Gynning, Alain Chabat, Ben Attal and Emmanuelle Seigner.

The film revolves around a man named Vincent (played by Yvan Attal) and his wife Gabrielle (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg).  The two are very much in love, married but somewhere after having kids and starting a family, the relationship has never been the same.

So, the film showcases how Vincent and his two male friends view marriage.  Fred (played by Alain Cohen) is a bachelor who is near 50 and just loves having women available for sexual encounters, while Georges (played by Alain Chabat) is married to a beautiful blonde named Nathalie (played by Emmanuelle Seigner) and has a child.  But Georges is not enjoying his marriage as his wife is always screaming down his neck and he doesn’t know how to cope with it and wonders if his problems are because he went for a beautiful woman instead of other women that had a chance to be with at the time.

But as for Vincent, he looks like a man who is dedicated to his wife Gabrielle and his son.  He and his wife give passionate kisses, he is there to play with his son but the truth is, Vincent is also having an affair with another woman.  Meanwhile, his wife Gabrielle has a sense that Vincent is having an affair and she dreams of them being separated.

One day at a music store, while listening to Radiohead’s “Creep”, a man (played by Johnny Depp) listens to the music alongside with her and there appears to be a slight attraction between them and for the first time, Gabrielle finds herself being interested in the man.  Can this feeling mean that she’s wanting out of her marriage?


“happily ever after” is presented in 2:35:1, letterboxed.  Unfortunately back in the early 2000’s, Kino Video wasn’t known for their picture quality for their releases.  Back then, even their trailers had burned in subtitles didn’t look good at all and so people did voice their dissatisfaction back then.  As for the film, picture quality is good but it does look a bit faded but it’s important to note that quality-wise, Kino Video has stepped things up since 2005 and hopefully they consider this film for Blu-ray release.  But as far this DVD goes, PQ is fine but not great.


“happily ever after” is presented in Dolby Digital French with optional English subtitles.  Dialogue is clear as with the music but it’s pretty much a front and center channel driven soundtrack.


“happily ever after” comes with the following special features:

  • An interview with writer-director Yvan Attal – (11:57) Yvan Attal talks about how he got the idea for the film, how it’s like to work with his partner Charlotte Gainsbourg and how the concept of the film changed overtime.  Also, how he convinced Johnny Depp to have a cameo in the film and discussing the ending of the film as well as how Charlotte contributed to the film outside of acting.
  • deleted scene – Yvan Attal comments – (3:00) A deleted scene from the film that would have changed the film in someways.  A pivotal scene in which Yvan Attal explains why he cut it out. I’m glad he did.
  • trailer – (1:59) The original KINO theatrical trailer with burned-in subtitles.
  • stills gallery – Using your remote, you can cycle through various stills from the film.

For me, “happily ever after” was a purchase I made after I enjoyed Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance in the film “My Wife is an Actress” but I have to admit that one of the biggest joys of watching this film was when I was on YouTube and searching for Radiohead’s “Creep” music video and I saw this video:

I just felt this video was just amazing and found out that it was from a scene from “happily ever after” and definitely inspired me to watch the film.

And I have to say that I enjoyed “happily ever after” and it’s probably more in the context of being married and talking with other married men and questioning marriage of “does this happen to you?” and changes that happen in marriage, especially after children and those who have more than one children.

And decisions that people make and what Yvan Attal was able to write is what he saw happening in life around him. The concept of “Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” came to him when he was taking his son to school and noticing that many of the parents were single. “happily ever after” dissects the modern marriage, those who want the fairytale of happily ever after and those who don’t understand what “happily ever after” is.

Going even deeper, the film in some ways explores the male perspective of marriage. Running a household, keeping your partner happy but also examining one’s own weakness of being happy through sexual gratification or an emotional disconnect between husband and wife after one has children. I hear this all the time from friends and the fact is that many people feel that way. Some are able to accept life as is, while others can’t and they look for that gratification elsewhere.

But where I feel Attal was very smart is by showing the female perspective through Gabrielle. Knowing that she loves her husband and family but also sensing that her husband is probably out with another woman and that is why he is hardly home and wanting to be with his friends. It tears her apart because she wants to keep the marriage strong. But when she goes to the music store, is touched by the lyrics of “Creep” by Radiohead and sees another man, she feels this attraction which she can’t explain.

“happily ever after” is an enjoyable film, humorous, witty and a film that makes you laugh and smile. But at the same time, the film’s title is not meant to re-enforce the concept of marriage. The film is to show that for many couples, it doesn’t matter if you are in France, USA, UK, etc., in today’s society, “happily ever after”…the fairy tale of a long and happy marriage with the person you love is disintegrating. These are what the men are thinking in this film. In fact, there is a fourth couple which features a husband and wife that truly love each other and for the character Georges, he doesn’t understand how anyone can be happy in a marriage.

Meanwhile, Vince is a man who wants to have the fairy tale marriage that is “happily ever after” but at the same time, he finds himself wanting to have fun with another woman and tries to see if he can have both but doesn’t know how this is emotionally hurting both women who love him.

But if there is one scene that did catch my attention and it was one of the smartest scenes without any dialogue and doesn’t feature the main characters is a scene that features an older couple eating dinner and throughout the dinner, not one word is said. It’s a powerful scene which I’m sure many couples can relate to.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, older KINO video DVD’s were not known for its quality but I hold hope that this wonderful film will receive HD treatment and will be considered for Blu-ray. I would love to see this film in HD.

Overall, “happily ever after” is a fantastic film featuring strong performances from Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the other talent in this film. The writing and cinematography (especially the music) are well-done. And I know the film goes against the trend of a romantic comedy and deals with the concept of marriage and the difficulties, but not every romance ends in a fairy tale, nor does every couple live happily ever after.

Definitely a film worth recommending! As for the DVD, not the greatest but let’s hope the new KINO considers this film on Blu-ray.

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