Published Aug 16, 2012Typically, cinematic depictions of the septuagenarian crowd are relegated to that of tragic bookend, comic folly or altruistic caregiver, which is what makes Stéphane Robelin's light-hearted, albeit subtly radical, politically speaking, comedy-drama somewhat of a surprise.
Following a group of five friends, each tackling their age-related life obstacle, And If We All Lived Together posits their decision to support each other in an ersatz hippie commune rather than relying on institutional modes of support (read: pensioners homes and apathetic family members). It does so without negating the inherent lifelong human passions that sustain identity and hope even when the body is no longer able to follow suit.
Jeanne (Jane Fonda), an academic with a propensity for sexual candour, hides a fatal disease from her friends and husband, Albert (Pierre Richard), whose dementia gradually progresses through the film's duration. His friend, and eventual roommate, Jean (Guy Bedos), struggles with external ageism, being a political radical who's no longer taken seriously by authority figures – while participating in a violent demonstration, he is ignored while others are arrested. And his wife (Geraldine Chaplin) acts as a vocal antagonist, not being particularly keen on opening her home up to their friends.
Tying things together thematically is confirmed bachelor Claude (Claude Rich), who explains midway through the movie while being bathed by a much younger man, who is incidentally studying cultural perceptions of the aged, that while his sexual urges still exist, his sociological desexualized status leaves him turning to prostitutes. Exacerbating this is the limitations of his body, which is a notion reiterated by Jeanne while she discusses masturbation.
But this playful French character piece isn't so much concerned with thwarting the cinematic status quo as it is in investigating these five characters. Once they move in together, their relationships are fleshed out and deconstructed, acknowledging the inevitability of communal living as an inherent instigator of conflict.
It's this astute portrayal of people with a past far more complex than what is presented on-screen that elevates this beyond a mere senior citizens odyssey, adding some appeal for a demographic not depicted within. (A-Z Films)