Two Tickets to Greece

Opposites attract, repel, and attract again in the French comedy Two Tickets to Greece.

In 1989, brash teenager Magalie and conservative Blandine were besties at school.  An argument over a boy saw an end to that and Magalie moved away. Now, three decades on and two years after her husband left her, radiology technician Blandine (Olivia Cote) is stagnating and seemingly fearful of everything. Her son, Benjamin (Alexandre Desrousseaux) is leaving home with mates.  Going through Blandine’s things, he finds a cassette that she and Magalie bonded over. It’s music from Luc Besson’s The Big Blue, much of which was shot on the Greek island of Amorgos, where Blandine and Magalie dreamed they would travel to. That never happened, but it is about to, after Ben reconnects his mum with her former BFF.

Only things between Blandine and extroverted music journalist Magalie (Laure Calamy) don’t exactly get off to a flying start. Magalie is far too over the top for the out of sorts Blandine. A free spirit, Magalie is even more brazen as an adult than she was as a youngster. Still, the odd couple presses on, but let’s just say all roads don’t lead directly to Amorgos. Along the way, they meet a cute surfer, Maxim (Nicolas Bridet), with whom Magalie tries to set up Blandine. Magalie also reconnects with another old friend, jewellery artist Bijou (Kristin Scott Thomas), who possesses as much spirit as Magalie. From an affluent background, Bijou threw it all away for a carefree lifestyle with a Greek man who dotes on her, Dimitris (Panos Koronis). For all the joie de vivre in Magalie and Bijou, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for either of them. While Blandine learns to move on with her life, she also realises she has misjudged Magalie.

While well meaning, Two Tickets to Greece feels contrived. Writer-director Marc Fitoussi set out to create a female-driven, feelgood comedy and he pushes hard to create outrageous moments and laughs.

The direction given to the key players seems obvious. In the case of Calamy and an almost unrecognisable Scott Thomas it’s to act up. For Cote, it is to show restraint. I’m not questioning whether Calamy and Scott Thomas do a decent job. Both give it their all, but what the film lacks is nuance and subtlety. Nor did I totally buy the transformation of Cote’s character.

Notwithstanding a couple of decent twists towards the end, for the most part Fitoussi has taken his concept and simply run with it.  While this leads to some cringeworthy moments, for the most part Two Tickets to Greece is watchable. That’s thanks in large part to the glorious settings. Greece is showcased beautifully by cinematographer Antoine Roch. The sub-genre of “girls’ trip” films is hardly original, but finding quality among them is a rarity, rather than a given. I’m afraid Two Tickets to Greece is part of the collective sub-par. This is hardly Thelma & Louise.

Alex First

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