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Critical / “A happy man” (2023) by Tristan Séguéla


A happy man was released in cinemas on February 15, 2023. Tristan Séguéla’s film with Fabrice Luchini and Catherine Frot deals with transsexuality in a bourgeois and senior environment. Criticism and opinion of Bulles de Culture


While Jean (Fabrice Luchini), very conservative mayor of a small town in the North, is campaigning for his re-election, Edith (Catherine Frot), his wife of forty years, tells him news that she can no longer keep quiet… At the core of her being, she is – and always has been – a man.
Jean first thinks of a joke but quickly realizes that Edith is serious and determined to see her transition through to the end. He then understands that his couple, but also his electoral campaign, risk being turned upside down…

A happy man : a comedy full of clichés

In all his films, Tristan Seguela feeds on social disparities. In 16 years or so, the filmmaker was thus interested in the late adolescence of a man going through puberty at the age of 34… Rebelote with A happy man, in which a married woman decides to assume her trans identity at the age of 60. When writing the film, we find Guy Laurentfigure of mainstream comedy playing with social taboos, known in particular for having collaborated on the screenplays of the trilogy of Philippe de Chauveron, What have we done to God? It is obviously in this same provocative vein thatA happy man was thought out, the idea here being to confront the conservatism embodied by a mayor in the middle of the campaign, and who must please his retrograde electorate, with the progressivism imposed on him by his wife’s decision.

On paper, the comedy is therefore intended to be contemporary, ready to compete with the earthquake caused, in its time, and on another subject, by La Cage aux Folles. Unfortunately, Séguéla’s film does not have the skill of this monument of French cinema. The representation of transgender people very quickly turns into the cliché of the bearded woman who spits on the ground, in the guise of a Catherine Frot who is a little overwhelmed by the (not very) funny aspect of her role. The film is repeatedly embarrassing on this point, but also in its evocation of the inhabitants of the North, designated as being homophobic and transphobic. Despite these awkwardnesses, there is however the will to approach a certain number of themes linked to transidentity in a comedy intended for an audience which, undoubtedly, is not used to it.

A happy man photo film
© Jérôme Prébois – 2023 Albertine Productions – Gaumont – France 2 Cinema

Our opinion ?

Who would have thought that C. Frot could one day play a man? If T. Séguéla’s comedy is clumsy, not very funny and sometimes awkward, it does however have the merit of approaching transidendity for an audience that is perhaps not so used to it.

Learn more:

  • Release date France: 02/15/2023
  • Distribution France: Gaumont Distribution

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