Director: Thomas Cailley
Cast: Kevin Azais, Adele Haenel
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While walking the beach one day, Arnaud (Kevin Azais) is forced into a wrestling match held by local Army recruits, as a colourful way of teaching self-defence. In spite of Arnaud’s protests, his opponent turns out to be a girl. Madeline Beaulieu (Adele Haenel) is a self-trained, tough-as-nails would-be survival expert, intent on joining an elite Army regiment. Though Arnaud’s aspirations go little beyond furthering his late Father’s timber business, attraction, fate and a ferret subtly guide the pair together.
Les Combattants is not a standard romantic comedy.
From the day our couple meet, their differences are set aside, as they build an odd adventure together. Following each other into situations they’d always avoid and totally overlooking their personality clashes, the two stick together because of a connection that the two leads portray perfectly, and wordlessly.
Their love focuses more on a relationship with nature, her love for his caring attention and his love for her quirk of spewing morbid facts. Candlelit dinners and strolls in the park make way for fighting over paintball and practising camouflage. The film brings to life the brilliant side of love that rarely gets screentime: the side that makes you carelessly abandon everything, compromise your dreams and start setting animal traps in the forest. It highlights the charming beauty of freedom from being alone.
Writer/director Thomas Cailley’s crafted style turns the film from a quirky adventure into an exploration of love as a survival mechanism, in a way that causes one of them to say, “If you die, after three days your cat will eat your face.”
Les Combattants is bright, funny and totally engaging. It creates situations that never outwardly suggest romance, but between the sharp script, loving direction and brilliant performances, it becomes unmistakable and completely unmissable.