‘Le prenom’ translated in English in the Shakespearean ‘What’s in a Name’ is even more than an adaptation, it is almost filmed theater. Excepting the introduction which is funny but has little to do with the film and the final few minutes which could have been much better all the play … sorry … the film takes place in a Parisian apartment where five characters mid-class, mid-age meet for dinner and live the crisis of their lives triggered by a practical joke one of them makes related to the name of his baby-to-come. As in Polanski‘s ‘Carnage’ which brought to screen a play by Yasmina Reza, the border between theater and film is never really crossed. Actually this film/play is so close to Reza’s style that I would have been fooled easily if they told me it’s written by her.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2179121/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2179121/

 

Alexandre de la Patelliere and Mathieu Delaporte brought to screen Delaporte’s play and it looks like they do not have any other ambition than bringing to broader audiences the same story of good friends discovering unknown truths and hidden aspects of each other’s personalities. Every ten minutes or so we do have a new revelation, each one about another of the characters involved which will put at try family relations and friendships forged decades back, in childhood. There are no social comments of actuality and no political sub-tones if we exclude some references to the left vs. conservative stereotypes, and probably the most significant (and funniest) reference is made to political correctness, related to the selection of the name of the baby boy, but it is consumed unfortunately in the first third of the movie. However, this may play eventually in the favor of the text, keeping it timeless and helping it stay actual even if read and played many years or decades from now.

 

(video source CinemasGaumontPathe)

At the end of the day viewing ‘Le prenom’ is an enjoyable experience and this is due to the well written dialog (it’s a filmed play, but a good one) and to the excellent acting. I especially liked the pair of brother and sister (Patrick Bruel and Valerie Benguigui) who succeed both to bring real-life nuances to their characters, supplementary to the complexity and wit which is derived from the text. Do not avoid ‘Le prenom’ if it comes soon on a screen or a stage close to your place.