What’s in a Name? (‘Le Prénom’)

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 49min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguigui, Charles Berling, Guillaume de Tonquédec, Judith El Zein

Nom de guerre: El Zein and Bruel

Playful opening sequences set the stage for a mouthy dramatic comedy adapted from a hit stage play about the murky depths of friendships. Over a Moroccan-themed dinner in the deceptively cosy apartment of teacher Elisabeth (Benguigui) and her academic husband, Pierre (Berling), Elisabeth’s high-flyer real-estate agent brother, Vincent (Bruel), reveals that he and his fiery wife, Anna (El Zein), have chosen a deeply controversial name for their unborn son. This does not sit well with the others, mild-mannered trombone player Claude (de Tonquédec) included. Being volatile bright sparks — and French! — they don’t hold back. And there’s plenty more where those outbursts came from, with buried resentments spilling thick and fast.


For so-called friends, this little lot seems to have precious little in common, unless you count force of habit and the white-collar sport of long-winded character assassination. How audiences take to all this will depend on their taste for hellish get-togethers, à la Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? For the spitfire cast, it’s an acting Olympics. For us, the uninvited guests, some destructive secrets may be better left unspilled.