One Wild Moment will be familiar to anyone with a fondness for trashy ‘80s comedies; its story, of a middle-aged man (Vincent Cassel) sleeping with his friend’s (François Cluzet’s) teenaged daughter (Lola Le Lann), will ring more than a few bells if you’ve seen Blame It On Rio, which had Michael Caine play out precisely that scenario in Brazilian paradise.
That’s no accident. Both Rio and Moment are remakes of a largely-forgotten 1977 French film, Un moment d’égarement, though despite their storyline similarities they take very different approaches to the subject matter (beyond simply moving the narrative to Corsica in the French flick).
Blame It On Rio’s comedic take was full of leers and sneers but, until its dopey third act, effectively demonstrated how predatory behaviour could be cloaked in a veil of ‘good times’ and Michael Caine’s fatherly charm. As Ebert suggested in his review, maybe a lighthearted screwball comedy isn’t the best choice for such material, but there’s some kind of twisted insight in how the movie’s middle age men regard their, frankly, rapey behaviour as a big joke.
One Wild Moment largely eschews any kind of comedy and only spends one scene ogling its undressed Lolita (whereas Rio spent most of its runtime on Michelle Johnson’s nude form). Along with the casting of creepy-uncle-extraordinaire Cassel, its more overtly dramatic take seems well-positioned to examine how well-intentioned men exploit the young women in their care.
Except that One Wild Moment bafflingly decides to embrace the backwards politics of its source material, living up to its title by limiting Cassel and Le Lann’s tryst to one drunken fling on the beach. Like Johnson, Le Lann has a childish infatuation with her father’s friend, but director Jean-François Richet depicts her as predator and Cassel the reckless victim. The dramatic impetus is whether Cluzet will discover his friend’s despicable behaviour, rather than how it might affect his daughter.
“We all have our moments of weakness,” laments Cassel, “and then we regret afterwards.” It’s a facile excuse for unforgivable behaviour, and the kind of thing a better film would interrogate and investigate rather than accept at face value. Even if we disregard One Wild Moment’s problematic politics, it’s not much of a film. The actors deliver decent performances, but the screenplay insists on clumsy symbolism (like wild boars lurking outside their Corsica holiday home) and the editing smothers any sense of rhythm.