He’s My Girl

A sequel to the 1998 film Man Is Woman (though if you haven’t seen it, it won’t matter), He’s My Girl centres once again on the life and loves of Simon Eskenazy. Famous for his blistering clarinet solos (well, as famous as a clarinet-ist can be expected to be), the world-wide-selling musician seems to live a fairly cushy life in Paris, happily involved with his lover of a year, Raphael. But when his mother falls ill and requires full-time help she decides to come and stay with him, putting strain on all aspects of his life. Things go from vague French disdain to worse when Simon meets Naim, a gorgeous Arab transvestite who, after falling for Simon, decides to help out with looking after his mother. But the bed-bound woman has no idea that the beautiful “Habiba” tending to her is in fact the extremely handsome Naim, and it seems her son is in no hurry to tell her the truth…

Credit where it is due, the cast of He’s My Girl is uniformly impeccable – Antoine de Caunes simmers wonderfully as the charming but troubled Simon, and Mehdi Dehbi is absolutely hypnotising as the gorgeous Naim. It isn’t difficult to believe that he is passed off easily as a woman to Simon’s family and friends, and we are just as enchanted by his (her?) charms as Simon himself. The surrounding players – Simon’s mother, his ex-wife and son are all believable and engaging, though upon being introduced to them its difficult to shake the feeling that they’re more thrown at us than worked into the plot.

And thus unfolds the central problem of He’s My Girl. Managing to set up very interesting dilemmas – what do you do when you discover your female nurse is actually a bloke sleeping with your son? How do you react when your gay lover of a year makes out with some chick in front of you? – for some reason the outcomes of these predicaments are never played out. Struggling with numerous plot-strands that include Simon’s re-engagement with his estranged son, his relationship with his ex-wife, the direction of his career and his tangled love life, no one aspect is given enough space to breathe. Instead, we flit back and forth between the various scenarios, never really satisfied by the conclusions of any.

Ultimately, though this a genuinely moving account of a blossoming relationship, the complications that surround it dilute the drama rather than enhance it. Watch for the lovely performances, then forget about it.

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