TWO TICKETS TO GREECE
THREE STARS Against better judgement, Blandine finally takes that trip to Greece.
COMEDY DRAMA FRANCE French #TWOTICKETSTOGREECE
Starring Laure Calamy, Kristen Scott Thomas
Deep in the odd-couple formula, TWO TICKETS TO GREECE pair old friends who really should know better and sends them on holiday to Greece. What could go wrong? It’s dramatic, romantic and funny and while there’s nothing especially new about the story (think SHIRLEY VALENTINE or MY LIFE IN RUINS), there’s a brittle, snappy darkness - a Frenchness if you will - that gives it a sparkle. And if that’s not entirely to your taste, there’s always the blinding beauty of Greek islands to gaze at. Sit back, relax.
Bitter, button-downed Blandine (Olivia Côte) is trying, for her son’s sake, to smile. He’s about to leave home, her ex-husband already has (and with a much younger woman no less), but smiling is not her resting face. On hearing about his mother’s long-lost schoolfriend Magaliie (the incomparable Laure Calamy), he arranges a blind date in the hope her joie de vivre can bring his mother out of herself.
And Magalie’s up for it, mostly because the impulsive woman hasn’t really moved past her free-wheeling, fun-loving days and still needs help covering the bills. Personal responsibility is not her strongest suit. Over dinner the pair reminisce about a teenage promise to visit the Greek islands and before you can say Mamma Mia!, they’re winging their way to sunshine.
TWO TICKETS TO GREECE suggests a knockabout comedy and to some extent, it is. While Blandine is the wet-blanket, straight woman to Magaliie’s vivacious, trouble-making funny girl, it’s clear this odd couple are a little odder than most. There’s a muted drama at play here too, a sub-text that quietly explores depression and the peril of personal identity that’s long past it’s best-before date. But before things get too heavy, Magalie’s artist friend (Kristen Scott Thomas) appears with an outsized bohemia that drops a welcome gear change on the third act.
Exercising perfect comic timing, Calamy is the film’s engine. She’s clearly having a ball as she lets Magalie lose on unsuspecting Blandine (and perhaps Côte), then tries to reign in her character’s worst impulses (succeeds, just) and keep our sympathy alive (succeeds just). Magalie is a great part, but one Calamy makes her own with an infectious fizziness. She’s the kind of person you wish you were a little more like, but secretly glad you’re not.
That said, don’t expect an unforgettable holiday from your TWO TICKETS TO GREECE. While it covers familiar emotional ground, there are enough chuckles, snappy dialogue, shocks, surprises and Frenchness to sustain the journey. The odd couple are agreeable even when they’re disagreeable. And when they are, you can always soak up the blinding beauty of Greece for a while instead.