Terence Rattigan's first successful play in a solid adaptation with a splendid cast
Terence Rattigan has very quickly become one of my favourite playwrights, his dialogue is so intelligent, witty and meaty, his characterisation so dynamic, complex and real and the storytelling so beautifully constructed.
'French Without Tears' is not my favourite of Rattigan's plays, or one of them, do prefer 'The Winslow Boy', 'Separate Tables' and particularly 'The Browning Version' myself. Despite the story being flimsier than those three, and it doesn't lend itself as well to more cinematic film adaptations, faring much better to me with a live audience, the light as soufflé and mostly quite sophisticated comedy and the meat of the writing and characterisation still remains.
While the weakest adaptation personally seen so far, of the four Rattigan adaptations so far watched, of the Terence Rattigan Collection DVD set (which is essential for die-hard Rattigan fans), this 'French Without Tears' is still very solid stuff.
It maybe would have fared better with a live audience (just personal opinion of course), and while the production values are handsomely done it's also rather too confined even for something written for the stage. A few of the comedic exchanges could have benefited also from a slightly lighter touch which would have made it more consistently compelling. Those faults do largely lie somewhat with the source material.
Still Rattigan's gift for light humour, writing that provokes thought and a darkly painful side, which brings complexity and dimension to the subject matter, and his attention to meaty characterisation still shines, even if the story still feels flimsy. What makes this 'French Without Tears' so worth watching the most is the splendid acting from the cast with no weak links.
Overall, solid adaptation of Rattigan's first successful play (which is not one of his best but still very interesting). 7/10 Bethany Cox
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