Coup de Chance

‘Fanny? Fanny Moreau?’ When Alain Aubert (Niels Schneider, "I Killed My Mother") recognizes his old high school crush on a Paris street, the two are clearly delighted by the serendipitous meeting and agree to meet for lunch.  But Fanny (Lou de Laâge, "The Innocents"), who is now actually Fanny Fournier, the much admired younger wife of financier Jean Fournier (Melvil Poupaud, "By the Grace of God") finds her feelings in turmoil and her life turned upside down by the “Coup de Chance.”

Laura's Review: B

Writer/director Woody Allen considers how luck and chance impact our lives in a film that plays like an inverted, much lighter version of “Crimes & Misdemeanors” with a dab of “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”  Clearly the work of the New York auteur, it nonetheless revels in its European setting, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro ("Wonder Wheel," "Rifkin's Festival") embracing the autumnal colors of city parks and rural forests.  While the film does not rank as one of Allen’s very best, it is still a delight from start to finish.

Jean is Fanny’s second husband, a man who takes immense pride in his wife, showering her with expensive jewelry, which she does not care for, and taking her for weekends in the country to hunt deer, two things she also does not like.  We actually wonder just why she is with him until we learn that her first marriage to a musician ended badly, so while she frets about having become a trophy wife, she appears to have opted for stability.  Ironically, Alain is also an artist of sorts, having moved to Paris for six months to write a book which just happens to be about chance and irony.

As Alain works to sweep Fanny off her feet, Jean, whose possessiveness keeps her on a short leash, becomes more and more suspicious and eventually hires a detective to follow her.  Meanwhile, Fanny's mom Camille (Valérie Lemercier, "Aline"), who pops in for occasional visits and who gets along like wildfire with Jean, overhears something about him at a party that spurs her own investigation when Alain suddenly disappears.

Allen has achieved a light touch despite material which goes to some very dark places, aided by savvy casting.   De Laâge invests us in her happiness which she and Schneider convince is ensured by their coupling, their delight in each other’s company palpable and infectious.  Poupaud applies just the right amount of charm so that we will see it later as superficial, the actor subtly changing our opinion of his character (it is very notable that Jean is obsessed by his electric train set, a train set having been a controversial detail in Dylan Farrow’s accusation against her father).  Lemercier adds a fun element as the supportive mom more willing to face facts than her impressionable daughter.  The large ensemble is rounded out by well chosen older couples who represent what Fanny dislikes about Jean’s lifestyle and Sâm Mirhosseini and Jamel Elgharbi as Dragos and Milos, shady characters in Jean’s employ.

From the opening white Windsor Light font titles on a black background to the jazz standards (Herbie Hancock’s ‘Cantaloupe Island’ is the film’s main theme) on the film’s soundtrack, “Coup de Chance” is unmistakably Woody and one of his better later works (his fiftieth!).  Allen’s economical direction and puckish screenplay work in tandem and he leaves us with a great big ironic laugh of an ending.

Robin's Review: B-

Fanny (Lou de Laage) and Jean (Melvil Poupard) have the ideal life: a beautiful apartment in a posh Parisian neighborhood, successful and fulfilling careers and deeply in love. Then, one day, she meets an old high school friend, Alain (Niels Schneider), and sparks begin to fly in “Coup de Chance.”

This is Woody Allen’s umpteenth movie and, to me, it is a mid-level Woody, at best. And, he borrows heavily from some of his own past films, like “Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).” But, it is also one that is not necessarily “A Woody Allen Film.”

Set in Paris – a beautiful locale to make a movie – Fanny has her chance meeting with Alain. At first, it is just old acquaintances meeting after many years. The chance meeting spawns another for lunch, and another and another. Soon, they are meeting in his apartment and making love.
Meanwhile, Jean, a high powered, no nonsense businessman, starts to notice deviations in Fanny’s behavior. She is not in her office when he calls her, makes excuses when he asks her to lunch and she is always distracted. Being a ruthless entrepreneur, Jean hires a private eye to follow Fanny. He soon learns the truth.

This is where Woody borrows from his own, better works proving that imitation is the highest form of flattery. The story takes an evil turn as Jean deals with his “problem” in the most final way possible. But, the story carries on from there, thickening the plot more, but to a bit of excess, I think.

The cast are beautiful or handsome, depending on the genre, and the actors populate the story adequately. In the end, it feels like a Woody Allen movie without actually being a Woody Allen movie.

MPI Media releases “Coup de Chance” in select theaters on 4/5/24 and on VOD on 4/12/24.  Click here for theaters.