The Directors’ Fortnight doesn’t present awards itself, but some of its sponsors do. This year, it’s a sweep, as Thomas Cailley’s Love at First Fight has won the Art Cinema Award, presented by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas, the Europa Cinemas Label as best European film and the SACD Award for French-language feature film, presented by the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques.
Love at First Fight has also been recognized today by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) as best film in a parallel section at Cannes this year.
“Two young French things discover that you can make love and war in Love at First Fight (Les Combattants), a drolly enjoyable screwball romcom from first-time director Thomas Cailley,” writes Jonathan Romney for Screen Daily. “Essentially light but with a solid base of grit and mischief, Cailley’s film is about a slow-burgeoning romance between a good-natured regular Joe and a femme who baffles him at every turn. But where the bewitching women in such romcoms tend to be zany and fluffy (the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’, as the type’s been dubbed), in this case she’s a hard-as-nails military fanatic who sees life as one big boot camp.”
Variety‘s Peter Debruge: “From an American perspective, the project certainly looks great, blending slick Hollywood-style technique with that restrained sense of storytelling so heartily encouraged among Euro auteurs, though the truth of the matter is the same film wouldn’t necessarily stand out if unveiled at Sundance, despite a pair of punchy lead performances from young hotshots Adele Haenel and Kevin Azais.”
In the Hollywood Reporter, Clarence Tsui finds the film “overflowing with relentlessly acerbic humor that shapes the way the film’s two young protagonists contend with not just each other, but also with the uncertainties of the world they’re emerging into as adults.”
For Fabien Lemercier, writing at Cineuropa, “when it comes to the haze surrounding the end of adolescence and the uncertainties of the future in a relatively intimidating society (pollution, falling employment), the story’s location in the suggestive setting of the Landes (its lakes and forests), its real provincial characters and the presence of the army, which speeds up the plot, marks an interesting originality which is nonetheless the true reflection of a French reality often ignored on the big screen.”