My Other Husband

My Other Husband is a French comedy that has finally arrived on these shores a couple of years after its release in France.

It’s easy to understand this lack of urgency. My Other Husband is certainly acceptable as a typically bouncy Gallic frolic, but it has few distinguishing features. The title carries most of the information you need to predict the various marital misunderstandings contained herein.

As the film begins, we see Alice (Miou-Miou) listening to the romantic problems of her friends. These problems are complicated, but her own issues are double whatever they can come up with; she’s got two husbands.

Huband No. 1 (Roger Hanin) lives with her in Paris with their 10-year-old son. The husband is an airline pilot so he’s away a lot.

When he’s away, Alice goes to stay with Husband No. 2 (Eddy Mitchell) in Trouville, a small seaside town. No. 2 is a teacher, and they have two children.

It all happened innocently enough. Well, more or less: Alice ran out on No. 1 shortly after the birth of their son. A few years later, she met No. 2 and settled down with him, never intending to see No. 1 again.

But, Paris being what it is, she runs into No. 1 on the street by accident, and soon falls back in love with him, and with her little boy. Thus begins her commuter lifestyle, as she explains to both men that her work requires her to live in two different areas. When the film begins, this has been going on for a year and a half.

There are some chuckles in this; director Georges Lautner has a touch for peripheral throwaways, such as an odd scene with a man who stops to help Alice and her friends with a flat tire, or a weird episode between one of Alice’s girlfriends, who works at a saltwater cure center, and a patient who is aroused by dousing from a water hose (“I can’t get over your fern-like fragrance,” he rhapsodizes).

But most of the film is decidedly minor, and the resolution is especially pat and disappointing.

My Other Husband kicks off an eight-week series of local premieres – which, for one reason or another, have not yet had a regular run – each of which will play for a week at the Crest theater.

The next two films are both American offerings. Secret Honor, directed by Robert Altman, plays from Jan. 31 through Feb. 6. It’s a remarkable little movie, based on a one-man stage play, that theorizes about the possible reasons for Richard Nixon’s behavior; Philip Baker Hall’s bravura performance as Nixon is a must-see.

Key Exchange, which plays from Feb. 7 through Feb. 13, is an engaging New York romantic comedy, also adapted from a stage play, that’s probably a bit too low-key for a big release. It stars Brooke Adams, Ben Masters, and Daniel Stern.

These will be followed by a sampling of international cinema: Peril (France), Feb. 14 through Feb. 20; Beyond Obsession (Italy), Feb. 21 through Feb. 27; Secret Places (Great Britain), Feb. 28 through March 6; Holy Innocents (Spain), March 7 through March 13; and Wartime Romance (U.S.S.R.), March 14 through March 20. Some of these have won international awards, and there are bound to be undiscovered goodies in there.

First published in The Herald, January 26, 1986

Well, good for the Crest, then part of the Seven Gables chain (later absorbed by Landmark) for programming the series. As far as I know, I’ve never seen any other Lautner films; other contributors here include Phillipe Sarde (music), Henri Decae (cinematography), Jean-Loup Dabadie (screenplay), all mainstays of French cinema.

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