DANCES WITH FILMS 2021 REVIEW! If you want to live a happy life, honesty is always the best policy… but said honesty makes for really dull stories. One such tale of innocent matrimonial dishonesty plays out in Stevan Lee Mraovitch’s feature film, Holidays At All Cost.
Fred (Oumar Diaw), Fanny (Donia Eden), and their young son, Max, have not gone on a vacation in years. Fred is eeking out a meager living in Paris, working overtime to save up for a trip to Fanny’s hometown in Southern France. The problem is the day before leaving, Fred’s boss has decided not to pay him the overtime he earned, screwing him over.
Not wanting to disappoint Fanny, Fred lies about not having the money to pay for the trip. Fortunately, Fred and Fanny are old schoolmates of Jean-Luc (Benjamin Garnier), who owns the resort. Jean-Luc tells Fred that he can stay there for free if he works a few hours at the resort. Problem solved, right? Comedy can never be that easy.
We soon discover that Jean-Luc has had a longtime crush on Fanny since high school and plans to keep the couple separated so he can make his move. On the first day, Fred has to clean up rooms. The next day sees him work as a masseuse, then a yoga instructor. Jean-Luc even has Fred pick up roadkill around the resort. The jobs sound simple, but each becomes insanely complicated at the behest of Jean-Luc.
“Jean-Luc tells Fred that he can stay there for free if he works a few hours at the resort. Problem solved, right?”
As Fred, Omar Diaw is great as the victim of Garnier’s Jean-Luc. Throughout Holidays At All Cost, Fred goes on a slow and steady emasculation of not just his manhood but self-image. If we’re honest, it started long before the vacation began. Fanny points out that workaholic Fred works way too hard for very little money… like a film critic.
This shouldn’t be a big point, but I love the fact that we have an interracial couple, and who cares? It’s never addressed, and quite frankly, it never should be. Fred and Fanny are two people in love and have the same marital challenges as everyone else. Diversity in storytelling is essential and would have been ruined in the film if it became a point of virtue signaling.
The story of Holidays At All Cost is not that unique if you’ve seen as many indie family comedies as I have. But there’s a charm to this Parisian take on the father who can’t seem to find rest, relaxation, or time on his family vacation. Its laughs are derived from the humorous situations and subtle torture of Fred. Though he is put through several wacky situations, writer/director Mraovitch wisely keeps his hero grounded as he moves from one ridiculous job to another. The comedy is also kept dry, never winking at the camera that a joke has been told. Fun is a great reason to see a movie. If anything, it’s a great distraction from the craziness going on in the world around us today.
Holidays At All Cost premiered at the 2021 Dances With Films.
"…laughs are derived from the humorous situations and subtle torture of Fred."