Starring: Karin Viard, Dara Tombroff, Anne Dorval
Director: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos
Running Time: 107 mins
Jealous (Jalouse) is a French film about a middle-aged woman who suddenly finds herself feeling incredibly jealous of everyone around her, putting her relationship with her friends, daughter and colleagues into chaos.
A film that can effectively be boiled down as a menopausal comedy, Jealous is far from the funniest or even most engaging film you’ll ever see, with poor humour, unlikable characters and predictable drama across the board, all of which makes for a rather glib and tiring watch.
The big problem with the film is that it puts itself in that painfully awkward and almost inescapable position between genuinely serious drama and slightly ridiculous humour. While it tries to tell a genuine story about the changes that women can through in later life, as well as the build-up of their own frustrations through life, it goes about that with a premise that can be initially construed as something a lot more light-hearted, and its attempts at comedy throughout – however much they may miss the mark – only serve to make that balance all the more awkward.
A good comparison for this film would be the Spanish comedy Empowered, which takes a vaguely similar premise to Jealous, but uses it in a totally different fashion, and to much greater effect. In Empowered, things are a lot sillier, and a whole lot funnier as a result, as we see a woman lose her filter after a build-up of huge stress, letting out all her frustrations on everyone she comes across.
So, much like Jealous, Empowered uses the negative energy of stress and frustration in its main premise, but the big difference is that it goes all-out on the comedic side of things, which not only makes for a funnier and more enjoyable watch, but in turn makes its main character more endearing, and therefore its attempts at drama a little more effective.
Jealous, on the other hand, is so poor in the comedy department that you’d think it’s just a serious drama half the time. If it were to take a slightly more light-hearted approach, then I’m certain the sudden growth of jealous feelings in Karin Viard’s character would not only have been more entertaining, but also easier to get to grips with, rather than what comes across as a rather mean-spirited and glum look at the menopause and a middle-aged woman’s many frustrations.
As a result, there really isn’t much to like when it comes to this movie, with that awkward blend of comedy and drama failing across the board, a range of unlikable lead characters, and a simply dull and glib story, and that’s why I’m giving Jealous a 5.7 overall.