If you’re like me, a big old fraidy cat, then you’re looking around this time of year for something to watch that doesn’t involve anyone being stalked by a masked killer with a knife. So how about a French comedy about COVID lockdown instead! Surprisingly, Stuck Together works better than you might think.
Filmmaker Dany Boon is the writer and director of this film and he also plays Martin, one of the many residents hunkering down in a Parisian apartment building during a lockdown early in the pandemic. He lives with his wife and daughter, and everyone in the building ends up getting to know each other whether they want to or not. They range from a young couple expecting a baby to an entitled, wealthy businessman with a teenage daughter and young son who owns a top-floor duplex. (The rest are just “renters” to him, if that tells you what kind of person he is.)
At the point of the pandemic we’re in now, the protocols of lockdown here– the masks, the tests, the Zoom learning– are more likely to induce fatigue than tickle your funny bone. However, Boon knows when humor can be found in exaggeration, and he brings that into play with Martin and his hypochondriacal response to the virus.
Watch as he rigs up a scuba mask to go to the grocery store! Giggle as he tries to take his wife’s temperature on the sly when she says she’s hot as they’re about to have sex! (Needless to say, he ruined the moment!) Since he works as an illustrator at a science magazine, this reaction makes sense. It also directly contrasts with the attitude of the jerk business owner, Tony, who almost sounds like an alt-right conspiracy theorist at a couple of moments.
Other interactions around the building’s courtyard engage the audience’s emotions as well, such as the cute first-crush dynamic going on between Martin’s daughter and Tony’s son. It is quite sweet. At the same time, we all know that the pandemic has brought a tremendous amount of grief with it for many people, and Boon recognizes this with an unexpectedly touching ending. The French title for this film is the building’s address, 8 rue de l’Humanite, and the theme of humanity is clear throughout.
Of course, that doesn’t mean all the details are perfect. The subplot involving a scientist at the testing lab on the building’s ground floor trying to create his own vaccine is aiming to be funnier than it is. Also, the way some of the characters’ conflicts are resolved is a little too neat. After Tony sneaks his kids out to visit his estranged wife and his daughter doesn’t want to come back with him, suddenly he’s an okay guy? This also applies to the marriages in the film. All the couples we see experience some sort of friction brought on by the circumstances of the pandemic but they are all resolved easily in the final act.
It’s hard to quibble much, though, when the heart of the story is so firmly in the right place. Stuck Together reminds us that we all are just that, stuck together, and especially during a global pandemic, we have to take care of each other. And though being spooked this season is something most people like, maybe we want to laugh too.
Ultimately, we give Stuck Together 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
Stuck Together is now streaming on Netflix.