Fanfan & Alexandre) is a 1993 French romantic comedy film
written and directed by
Alexandre Jardin and starring Sophie Marceau
and Vincent Perez. This film is based on the director's
best-selling 1990 novel, which was translated into almost two dozen
3.1 Box office
3.2 Critical response
5 External links
Alexandre (Vincent Perez) is frustrated with his fiancé, Laure
(Marine Delterme), whose idea of a romantic Valentine's Day gift is a
pair of slippers. The passion and magic of their initial courtship has
been replaced by routine and boredom. Needing to get away, Alexandre
visits the beachfront cottage of his friends, Ti (Gérard Séty) and
Maude (Micheline Presle). There he meets a beautiful young woman,
Fanfan (Sophie Marceau), who is Maude's granddaughter and a student at
Maude's school, studying to become a perfumer or Nose. Although they
sleep in the same bed that night, Alexandre avoids any physical
The next day they are joined by Ti and Maude, who become confidants to
Fanfan takes Alexandre to an old abandoned house where
they learn more about each other in the quiet comfort of her childhood
"hideout". Back at his apartment, Alexandre discovers his fiancé in
the bedroom dressed as an Italian call girl, hoping the charade will
excite his libido and rejuvenate their relationship—but the charade
does not work. Later at her parents' house, Alexandre becomes even
more discouraged by Laure's father's talk of him joining the funeral
business and the gloomy outlook on marriage.
Fanfan confesses to a friend that she is in love with
Alexandre. For Alexandre, however, things are more complicated. He
explains to Ti that his past relationships have all followed the same
disappointing pattern—the seduction and passion at the start is
inevitably replaced with routine and boredom once a relationship
becomes sexual. When asked what the alternative is, Alexandre offers
his solution: Platonic love. To avoid the banality of "coupledom" in
his new relationship with Fanfan, he will court her forever without
ever revealing his love for her. He'll never kiss her or take their
relationship to a physical level, reasoning that excitement is found
in unfulfilled desire. He will stay with Laure physically, but will
stay in love with
Fanfan meet for a date at a beautiful upscale apartment,
which Alexandre says belongs to his father. While
personal and intimate details about her life, Alexandre prepares all
her favorite foods from childhood, and the two share a romantic
evening by candlelight. The perfect evening is interrupted, however,
when the apartment's owner returns home with his wife, who proceeds to
call the police as Alexandre and
Fanfan make their escape.
Fanfan and drives her to a television studio to a
set designed to be Vienna in 1813. He dresses her in a ballroom gown,
removes the blindfold, and they waltz together, gazing lovingly into
each other's eyes. They end their magical evening with a bottle of
champaigne on an imaginary balcony overlooking an imaginary Vienna,
with Alexandre proposing a toast to their "friendship".
clearly disappointed and annoyed with Alexandre's talk of
"friendship", and she asks to be dropped off at the home of her friend
Paul—a sculptor doing a nude study of her.
Alexandre returns home to an equally annoyed Laure, who suspects he's
been with another woman. Alexandre admits it, but assures her that
nothing will ever come of it. As Laure plans out their wedding,
Alexandre can actually see them turning into her parents. Laure knows
something is wrong, saying, "I wish I weren't yours so you would want
me again." Meanwhile,
Fanfan complains to Maude about Alexandre's
strange behavior. Unlike Alexandre,
Fanfan believes in "eternal
passion for life."
Fanfan learns from Maude that Alexandre has been
living with Laure for five years.
Fanfan continue to socialize as friends, but the
"friendship" only creates more frustration. They meet at a restaurant
Fanfan gives him an ultimatum: he must choose between Laure and
her. While Alexandre claims to want only friendship,
Fanfan knows he
is attracted to her by his scent. Later when she isn't looking,
Alexandre pours sleeping powder in her drink, and she falls into a
deep sleep on the ride home. She wakes up on the beach at the cottage,
where Alexandre watches over her and applies suntan lotion sensually
on her back. Tempted by the half-naked Fanfan, he moves to kiss her
when suddenly Laure arrives by boat and announces that the wedding
plans are set and that she is pregnant. After congratulating the
Fanfan leaves in disgust.
Unable to concentrate on her studies,
Fanfan fails her perfumer final
exams. Meanwhile, Alexandre discovers that Laure lied about being
pregnant, and after he throws away the wedding invitations, Laure
calls off the wedding. Alexandre then sees
Fanfan boarding a bus to
Italy, and he chases after her. When he reaches the bus at the next
stop, he does not get on, and the bus pulls away. Later, Ti warns him
Fanfan will not wait forever. When Alexandre learns that she will
be in Italy for ten days, he sets in motion his next plan. He rents
the apartment next to Fanfan's apartment, knocks out the dividing
wall, and installs a two-way mirror so he can see into her apartment
while remaining hidden.
Back from Italy,
Fanfan and Alexandre arrange to spend the weekend at
the beach cottage as friends. At the train station, however, Fanfan
surprises Alexandre by bringing her sculptor friend, Paul. Clearly
disappointed and jealous, Alexandre tells her that he and Laure have
broken up and that her pregnancy was a lie.
Fanfan simply responds,
"Too late." At the beach, Paul announces that he and
getting married, but back at the apartment, Alexandre discovers
through the two-way mirror that their wedding plans were just a ruse
to make Alexandre jealous, and that
Fanfan is still in love with him.
Later, after learning about the two-way mirror,
Alexandre who is hidden behind the mirror. He confesses he did not get
on the bus to Italy that day because he knew that in five years he
would no longer be running after the bus. They kiss and embrace each
other tenderly through the glass, but
Fanfan says she needs more. "I
need to feel you in me," she says, but Alexandre cannot respond.
Fanfan gives him another ultimatum: if he is not in her
room by 10:00 pm, he'll never see her again. Alexandre does not show,
and when he returns to his apartment, he sees that she's moved out and
left a note that she is going to see her sister. Devastated that she's
gone, Alexandre calls Maude only to find out that Fanfan's sister is
dead, and she could not see her other than by committing suicide.
Alexandre envisions trying to get to
Fanfan through endless bridal
veil, and cries for being too late to touch her living body. Just then
the mirror is cracked—
Fanfan has broken the wall of glass between
them. The two kiss and embrace, and
Fanfan tells him he has until the
morning to win her back.
Sophie Marceau as Fanfan
Vincent Perez as Alexandre
Marine Delterme as Laure
Gérard Séty as Ti
Bruno Todeschini as Paul
Marcel Maréchal as Le père de Fanfan
Gérard Caillaud as Le père de Laure
Micheline Presle as Maude
Béatrice Esterle as La mère de Fanfan
The film topped the box office on its opening weekend in France,
playing at 204 screens and selling 188,577 admissions. In total the
film sold 1,020,679 tickets after its run in French theaters.
Fanfan received mixed reviews. In his review in Films de France, James
Travers found the first half of the film "unconvincing and painfully
superficial in places," but thought the film improved significantly in
the second half:
Compelling performances from
Vincent Perez and Sophie Marceau
transform what looks at first like a routine romantic comedy into
something far richer, far more compassionate. The second part of the
film also contains some moments of artistic brilliance, notably the
Cocteau-esque sequence in which the two lovers attempt to make contact
through a mirrored partition. Although there are a few unexplained
gaps in the narrative—some more back story about Alexandre might
Alexandre Jardin succeeds in weaving a
tender love story that is both original and hauntingly poetic.
Fanfan received an 81% positive audience rating on the aggregate
reviewer web site
Rotten Tomatoes based on 1,457 user ratings.
^ "Fanfan". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 20 September
^ "Fanfan". Moviefone. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012.
Retrieved 20 September 2011.
^ "Full cast and crew for Fanfan". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved
20 September 2011.
^ "16-22 Juin 1993". JP's Box Office. 16–22 June 1993. Retrieved 20
^ "Fanfan". JP's Box Office. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
^ Travers, James (2006). "Fanfan". Films de France. Retrieved February
Fanfan & Alexandre". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 February
Jardin, Alexandre (1990). Fanfan. Paris: Le grand livre du mois.
Fanfan on IMDb
Fanfan at AllMovie
Fanfan at Rotten Tomatoes
Fanfan at FAN