French Film Review: Mr. Blake At Your Service!

Mr Blake st Your Service  

It’s so wonderful to see Fanny Ardant in a film again.

‘Mr. Blake At Your Service!’ also stars John Malkovich, who lived and worked in theatre in the south of France for a decade, so he is a competent French speaker. Even so, he has a very peculiar French accent.

Malkovich plays Englishman Andrew Blake who is grieving the death of his wife. He isn’t happy in London and wants to return to the mansion in France where they first met.

Mr Blake at Your Service

Mr Blake at your Service

Ardant is Nathalie, the owner of the mansion, which is set in beautiful grounds.

He thinks he’s booked a room and breakfast, but there’s been a misunderstanding and the cook thinks he has applied for a butler’s job. The only way he can stay is to accept the job. As a businessman, he has no experience in service, but because he is English, the cook thinks he will make a grand impression on guests. Andrew gets to know the other staff and he is the voice of reason and kindness in a sea of French eccentricity, as he navigates the emotional ups and downs of Odile the overly bossy and controlling cook, Phillipe the lovelorn handyman, Manon the maid with boyfriend troubles, and a grumpy cat.

Mr Blake at Your Service

The film has gentle humour throughout, and particularly funny is a scene where Andrew, replete with a blonde wig, teaches the handyman the etiquette of dating and dining. But the main underlying tension is that Nathalie has financial troubles due to the high costs of running the place, including paying staff. She doesn’t want to sell the place and fire staff, but it’s increasingly looking like she will be forced to do so. Odile has an idea to rent out rooms, a bed and breakfast, to raise some money, but has no real idea how to get that idea off the ground.

The film is adapted from best-selling French writer Gilles Legardinier’s novel ‘Complètement Cramé!’, translated into 17 languages worldwide. Legardinier is also the director.

It’s a charming film. Malkovich is mesmerising, and both he and Ardant are of course a joy to watch. It’s definitely a feel-good film, but a smart well-written feel-good film; and one of my highlights so far in the Festival.

Have you seen Mr. Blake At Your Service? What was your reaction?


About the Contributor

Cynthia Karena

I am a freelance journalist, TV researcher and media trainer based in Melbourne. I write about tech, film, sustainability and travel among other things - and of course, all things French for You can find me on Twitter and Instagram

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