The debut feature for its young writer-director, this unassuming but engaging French dramedy deserves the prizes it picked up at Cannes and at the country's Oscar-equivalent Cesars.
It's a smart and unusual love story anchored by performances of boundless charm from its leads - 22 and 25 when the film was shot. If it settles for a rather conventional ending, in which a very interesting female character is required to play a damsel in distress, it's a forgivable misstep: the film certainly pays its dues the rest of the running time.
If you get past the silly title (the original, Les Combattants, is much more evocative), you will meet Madeleine (Haenel), a young woman who has her sights set on joining an elite army regiment so she will survive the apocalypse she is sure is coming.
Azais is Arnaud, a young carpenter in a family business who meets Madeleine during an impromptu self-defence class on the beach, where she has him helpless in a headlock within seconds.
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He wants revenge and he's quietly smitten - and the unpredictable story that follows takes place at the boundary between his romantic aspirations and her military ambitions.
It takes some doing to create a romantic heroine who doesn't smile until two-thirds of the way through the film, but rather gazes at the world in wide-eyed defiance, while talking about how your cat will eat your face in three days if you die.
But Haenel, who beat Juliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard to the best-actress Cesar, does it effortlessly and it's a pleasure to watch Azais shed his doe-eyed and lovestruck persona as the film progresses.
Cast: Adele Haenel, Kevin Azais
Director: Thomas Cailley
Running time: 98 mins
Rating: M (sex scenes, offensive language) in French with English subtitles
Verdict: Charming and original.