Coup de Chance – movie review

Although out of favour in the US, Woody Allen is still a revered filmmaker in France. So fittingly enough, his fiftieth film as a director is actually set and shot in France. And, surprisingly enough, the dialogue is in French, with subtitles. Coup de Chance (Stroke of Luck) also turns out to be one of Allen’s best films in quite some time, showing there’s still plenty of life left in the 87-year-old auteur.

One morning while walking to work Fanny Fournier (Lou de Laâge) bumps into Alain (Niels Schneider), a former school friend. He’s now an aspiring writer who’s leading a bohemian lifestyle in Paris. He confesses to Fanny that he had a crush on her when they were at school but was too timid to act on his feelings. Fanny works at an upmarket auction house and is married to wealthy, arrogant businessman Jean (Melvin Poupard). Fanny and Alain meet up for lunch the next day and before two long they embark on an affair that has her reconsidering her relationship with the possessive Jean. She realises that her marriage has fallen into a routine. It lacks passion and excitement. And Jean’s antique model train set is his most cherished possession.

But soon the preoccupied Jean begins to suspect that Fanny is unfaithful and hires a private investigator to follow her. What he uncovers sets in motion a chain of events that lead to an unexpected climax. Fanny’s mother Camille (Valerie Lemercier) becomes curious and begins to probe into Jean’s business dealings and the mysterious death of his former business partner.

Coup de Chance is not a breezy comedy, but rather more of a light domestic drama about infidelity and murder. Its narrative is more akin to Allen’s earlier films Match Point and Crimes and Misdemeanors with its noir-like stylings that seem more like Hitchcock. The film is typical Allen in many respects though, with plenty of throwaway quips and lots of philosophical musings on the role luck plays in shaping our lives. As Alain observes: “How ironic life can be, how we’re ruled by chance and coincidence.” Chance and coincidences certainly play a role in the events of this film.

Coup de Chance is shaped by Allen’s breezy touch and moves along at a leisurely pace. Tension builds as it moves towards its twist ending. The action is accompanied by a great, bouncy jazz score that further adds to the film’s enjoyment. The film was superbly shot by veteran Oscar winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now), who uses bright autumnal colours and gives the material a warm ambience.

Allen draws strong, nicely nuanced performances from his cast. De Laâge (Black Box) is charming and vivacious and brings energy to her role. Poupard (One Fine Morning) is suitably cold and aloof, while Lemercier (Monte Carlo) is good as Camille.

Greg King

Other reviews you might enjoy: