"As a result of the film being presented as a series of short movies, such a unique approach and style does pose some issues that can't be addressed..."
Somewhat unfairly, The Players arrives in the UK with a certain degree of pressure, as a picture co-directed by Michel Hazanavicius, and starring Jean Dujardin - both Oscar winners for their work on the immensely successful The Artist. In all honesty, the film may not have even been merited with a British release at all had it not been for the reputation that now comes with it, and unfortunately, that may have been for the best.
The Players presents a host of short stories, with the recurring theme of infidelity, each story presented by a different director, as Hazanavicius is joined by Dujardin, Fred Cavayé, Emmanuelle Bercot amongst others on the directorial team, also including Gilles Lellouche, who stars in the films alongside Dujardin.
The pair appear in almost every short, playing different characters on each occasion. In one instance they are both misogynistic, serial cheaters on their wives, planning a trip to Las Vegas. In others we see Dujardin play a lonely, desperate man on a weekend away for a work conference, trying and failing in being unfaithful. We also have a story presenting Lellouche cheating on his wife and children by dating a younger school girl, and so on.
As a result of the film being presented as a series of short movies, such a unique approach and style does pose some issues that can't be addressed. For example, there is no real flow, rhythm or direction to this film, no lasting narrative that exists throughout. Instead, every time we start to get to know a character or begin to embrace them, the story ends and we move swiftly on to the next one. Also, it takes two or three of the short films to realise they are separate stories. Once the second short began, I thought it was merely a flashback showing us how the two leads from the first story had first encountered one another. Perhaps naming the individual stories, or making the characters look more notably different, would have helped in this regard.
As for the content itself, the stories are hit and miss as some are certainly better than others. However what does remain consistent are the performances by Dujardin and Lellouche, both wonderfully charming, certainly possessing the necessary attributes to make two middle aged men still seem desirable to younger, attractive women, able to be unfaithful with whomever they choose to be. They posses a charm and both have a swagger about them which makes this all seem plausible. Plus they're French.
The Players is certainly a wise move for Dujardin as he presents himself somewhat differently to how we perceived him in The Artist. If he wants to avoid any potential typecasting and to simply move away from the film and onto other projects, then a series of scenes depicting him masturbating profusely in a hotel bathroom is certainly the right way to go about it, as such images couldn't be further away from the delightful, endearing nature of The Artist. Not so squeaky clean now, is he?
Despite there being a female director on board, The Players does feel as though it is approaching infidelity from a man's perspective, which, although presenting one or two questionable moral decisions, does make for an amusing feature as the audience are subject to a host of comical excuses and tricks of the trade, so to speak. The film spends half of its time attempting to justify unfaithfulness, coming up with rather well-thought out vindications.
The Players is funny in parts and charming in others, and there is the odd enjoyable story, it's just a shame they don't have any durability. However this does work both ways, as when we reach the more tedious sections to this film, we're safe in the knowledge that it isn't going to last for a very long time.