Relationship Status: It’s Complicated isn’t awful, as its sorry Facebook-referencing title would indicate. But this feather-brained French farce also isn’t the honest, bracing look at the temptations of infidelity that it could have been.
It’s as slight as its diminutive star (Manu Payet, who also co-directed with Rodolphe Lauga and co-wrote with Romain Lévy and Nicolas Peufaillit). Ben (Payet) never got over his high school crush, American transfer student Vanessa (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Being engaged to the beautiful, level-headed Juliette (Anaïs Demoustier) doesn’t shake this struggling videographer out of his gloom.
Upon hearing that Vanessa has returned to Paris to launch a restaurant, he agrees to shoot a promotional video for the grand opening. Flirting ensues, and bumbling ensues — all of it quite chaste and low-wattage. (It’s inconceivable that the ravishing Chriqui wouldn’t know anyone else in all of Paris.) To be fair, the premise of a man cheating not out of spite or callousness but in order to make up for a lame adolescence has comic potential, and Payet manages to keep Ben likably silly, even when behaving badly.
He throws in one or two hilarious flights of fancy — the best one, a short film he makes to win back Juliette, comes at the very end. But most of the gags are forced and clumsy — a street-dancing fantasy sequence, a delusional father-in-law who thinks he’s dating Cyndi Lauper. In the end, Relationship Status is wan when it tries to be scandalous.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 15, 2014