Forte(French, Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Melha Bedia,Valérie Lemercier,Alison Wheeler,Bastien Ughetto,Jonathan Cohen,Ramzy Bedia
Directed by Katia Lewkowicz
A French comedy about an overweight girl with unconventional looks, seeking male company is not an unusual occurrence. Forte which also goes by the rather ugly title of Ballsy Girl, has all the ingredients of a delectable soufflé-comedy. A chick flick with balls ? Check! Sassy overweight heroine? Check! Supportive busybody friends trying to hook her up with an eligible male? Check. A meddlesome melodramatic mom? Check!
In spite of ticking all the boxes and tickling all the right funnybones, Forte falls short of expectations by miles. It’s neither funny nor audacious enough to qualify as this era’s Juno. Far from it! The protagonist Nour(Melha Bedia,a standup comedian with weight issues that don’t bother her at all, bravo!) is a receptionist at a gym who is …well…how do I put this politely… on the prowl for male company.Her friends are stereotypically ditzy.For example a chap who thinks he’s gay but he is not.
There is this rather touching interlude with a centrepread type of pinup guy who takes Nour out for dinner and then breaks her heart by making a business proposal. As it often happens in such comedies about unconventional squares in circular boxes, Nour deals with heartbreak by doing something unexpected. She decides to learn pole dancing.
Why pole dancing? You may ask. I am sure there is a good reason for it. But I am just not convinced what a 120-kilo teenager sliding up and down a pole is supposed to prove. Through all of these peccadilloes, Nour remains a puzzle that can only be solved by hard drinking or serious sexual intercourse. By the time the good wholesome kindhearted handsome boy shows up Nour and the audience are wondering the same thing: what does he see in her?
Bits of giggly laughter will escape your mouth when Nour’s hysterical mother (Nanou Garcia) suspects her daughter has taken to the oldest profession in the world, or when the mother’s lover(nicely played by Ramzy Bedia, the heroine’s brother) stalks Nour to know what she’s up to…but it’s never really as funny as it is meant to be.
Nour’s problem is not her weight. It’s just that she is not as funny or feisty as she thinks and comes across as a plain pain in the derriere. Whether this is intentional or a lapse in the actress’ performance, I don’t know.And it really doesn’t matter. At the end, the cramped spaces that this rom-com occupies , induced in me a a pang of regret for the team behind this coming-of-age misfire. They mean well. God forgive them for they know not they’ve sinned.
Such a waste of young throbbing energy.