Les Combattants, film review: Offbeat comedy-drama tells a familiar story in an original way

(15) Thomas Cailley, 98 mins. Starring: Adèle Haenel, Kévin Azaïs, Antoine Laurent
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The Independent Culture

Thomas Cailley's engaging and offbeat comedy-drama follows the romantic misadventures of a young woodcutter. Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs) is still coming to terms with the death of his father.

He is planning to spend the summer working with his brother in the family business, building garden shelters. Then, he encounters Madeleine (Adele Haenel) for the first time. She is unconventional – a bluntly spoken survival fanatic who wants to join the military. Just so he can be close to her, he enlists in boot camp.

Cailley is telling a familiar story of a summer love affair in an original way. He makes some sardonic points about unemployment and disillusionment among French youth but the main focus is on the relationship between Arnaud (played as if he's a latter-day version of Truffaut's equally hapless and doe-eyed Antoine Doinel) and Madeleine.